Bill Gates.

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Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates has pledged a quarter billion dollars to combating the coronavirus pandemic through his foundation.

Gates has also been the focus of false conspiracies that have claimed he knew about the pandemic beforehand or was even responsible for it.

“#ExposeBillGates” was trending on Twitter over the weekend as the result of coordinated efforts by conspiracy theorists.

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Bill Gates remains a major target of conspiracy theorists around the world, as “#ExposeBillGates” was trending on Twitter over the weekend. The coronavirus pandemic has only increased online conspiracies about the Microsoft cofounder and billionaire, as false claims say Gates knew about the virus before it spread, or that he was even somehow responsible for it.

On Saturday, Politico correspondent Mark Scott noticed that “#ExposeBillGates” was trending on Twitter in North America and Europe, and found that activists on Reddit, 4chan, and other websites coordinated efforts to get the hashtag attention.

Alex Kaplan, a researcher at Media Matters, found that the hashtag was part of a day of action from online activists calling for “a non-partisan coalition of alternative media organizations and activists groups” to “expose Bill Gates and his control agenda.” The hashtag was amplified by QAnon accounts, as well as far-right figures like Michelle Malkin, who was part of an earlier online pledge to not receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Gates has been the focus of coronavirus conspiracy theories since at least January. Online activists have used Gates’ famous TED Talk on the danger of pandemics, along with his $250 million contribution to fighting coronavirus through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as evidence that Gates knew about COVID-19.

Some unsubstantiated theories — shared by fringe figures like Alex Jones and Fox News host Laura Ingraham — have claimed that Gates and other powerful figures were using the pandemic as an excuse to digitally track the world’s population. Gates has also been the target of anti-vaccination activists, who have pledged not to take a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available.

Bill Gates has been critical of President Trump and the US response to the coronavirus. “Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds,” he tweeted on April 15, soon after President Trump announced intentions to cut funding for the World Health Organization. “Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever.”

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