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How Salon.com Ragebait Tricked Twitter into Hating Bill Gates

Bill Gates was trending today after a Salon.com article suggested that he didn’t want vaccine formulas shared with poor countries for, “intellectual property” reasons.

Salon.com Tweet

The tweet implies gates is a cruel man seeking to keep things from, “poor countries”. The tweet’s description, which is controlled by the Salon.com, implies Gates doesn’t want to share the formula because of, “patent protections”.

Salon.com Article Suggests Patent Protections Behind Gates’ View

The linked Salon.com article1 also implies Gates doesn’t want other countries producing the vaccine because, being a former Microsoft founder, he has a strong view of patents.

Here’s how Salon.com introduces Gates’ comments,

“Gates — whose massive fortune as founder of Microsoft relies largely on intellectual property laws that turned his software innovations into tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth — said”

The strange addition of commentary introducing Gates’ comments is likely why Twitter users, even those on the left, strongly condemned Gates.

Twitter Users Rage at Gates

Salon.com’s Deceptive Story

We explained above how Salon.com implied gates opposed sharing vaccine formulas because he believed in intellectual property. However, Gates said nothing of the sort. He made two points:

  1. Refusing to share the vaccine formula isn’t what’s slowing down getting vaccines to poor countries.
  2. Even if we did share the formula, there are safety concerns around producing the vaccine in unregulated/unapproved facilities.

Gates also said he had safety concerned because, “it’s never been done before.”

Gates even specifically said, “the thing that’s holding things back in this case is not intellectual property.” The Sky News interviewer even summarized his point, “it’s not that [patents] that’s slowing it down.”2

Watch the interview yourself and make up your own mind. The video will start at the moment that sparked the controversy.

So while Gates explicitly made clear that he was concerned only about safety, and sharing the formulas had nothing to do with the speed of poor countries getting vaccinated anyway, Salon.com’s story implied the exact opposite had happened.

A Case of Ragebait?

The main beneficiary of this deceptive story is Salon.com. Their story went viral, leading to untold number of clicks, views, and growing their brand awareness. It seems to likely be a case of what we call, “Ragebait“, a deceptive story designed to get Twitter outraged, at the expense of the actual truth.

What About Sharing Vaccine Formulas?

This story was focused on Bill Gates’ comments rather than, “sharing vaccine formulas,” which is a sperate issue entirely. We take no position on whether it is a good or bad idea. We encourage the reader to investigate both positions based on the facts rather than articles that sacrifice truth to get social media engagement.

The Tragic Truth, Bill Gates: Advocate for the World’s Poor

The unfortunate truth behind this controversy is that Bill Gates is perhaps the world’s foremost advocate for health in poor countries. Long before the pandemic, Gates’ foundation was vaccinating the world, especially in often ignored poor countries, leading the Guardian to say he’s helped save 122 million lives, many of them in poor countries.3

Back in November 2020, Gates’ foundation donated an additional $360 million to help get vaccines to poor countries.4

Gates was perhaps the most prominent voice calling for congress to allocate more money to help poor countries get vaccinated. 5

Opinion: Find Another Billionaire to Hate

In 2021, many Americans don’t like billionaires, especially socially awkward ones, but going after one of the most effective advocates for the world’s poor based on deceptive stories, and claiming he doesn’t care at all about the poor is just disgusting.

  1. Salon.com: Bill Gates says no to sharing vaccine formulas with global poor to end pandemic
  2. Note: The interviewer stutters at this point, we’ve included the quote to remove that verbal mistake.
  3. The Guardian: How Bill and Melinda Gates helped save 122m lives – and what they want to solve next
  4. Reuters: Vaccine alliance secures $2 billion to fund COVID shots for poor nations
  5. The Hill: Bill Gates urges Congress to spend $4B for COVID-19 vaccines in poor countries

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