The Microsoft co-founder was an avid Twitter user until Nov. 19. But since then that account has been silent.
Did Bill Gates quit Twitter?
Or is the co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Free Report simply boycotting the platform now owned by Elon Musk?
The philanthropist was until recently an avid user of the social network, regularly publishing his humanitarian efforts, in particular fights against malaria and polio.
For example, “By coming together and funding efforts like the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we can #EndPolio and build a healthier world,” Gates tweeted on Oct. 15.
This post came as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.2 billion more to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The new fund will help redouble and speed efforts to fight this disease, which has reappeared in recent months in regions where it was thought to have disappeared. A resurgence would jeopardize billions of dollars of investment over decades.
No Gates Tweets Since Nov. 19
He has also often used Twitter to shine a spotlight on innovations that can improve people’s health worldwide. His last tweet, which dates to Nov. 19, is about smart toilets.
“In order to solve our world’s sanitation crisis, we need smarter toilets that don’t rely on sewage systems and prevent the spread of diseases. #WorldToiletDay,” the billionaire posted that day, with a link to a blog post of the Gates Foundation about reinventing the toilet.
Since that tweet, Gates has not appeared on Twitter, which is surprising given his activity on the platform. Until Nov. 19, the philanthropist tweeted almost every day and sometimes several times a day.
The billionaire’s account is still visible, meaning he hasn’t been suspended by the company.
TheStreet has reached out to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to ask what the billionaire’s silence meant.
Gates’s silence on Twitter, however, coincides with the network’s decision, purchased by Musk on Oct. 27, to remove safeguards to limit the spread of misinformation related to the covid-19 pandemic.
“Effective Nov. 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the covid-19 misleading-information policy,” the company said on its transparency page.
The announcement suggests that accounts spreading false information about the pandemic will not be penalized.
The microblogging website didn’t explain why it made the major U-turn.
“Since introducing our covid-19 guidance last year, we have challenged 11.72 million accounts, suspended 11,230 accounts and removed over 97,674 content worldwide as of September 2022,” the company had said.
Gates Had Concerns About Musk’s Twitter
There has been a feud between Gates and Musk since May, after Musk learned that Gates had bet on a drop in Tesla’s stock price, a short bet.
At the time, Gates expressed concerns about the changes Musk would make to Twitter once he took ownership.
“Do you have any advice for Elon Musk as he buys Twitter of what he should do?” Gates was asked at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Summit on May 4.
“He actually could make it worse,” Gates responded. “That’s not his track record. I mean, his track record with Tesla and SpaceX is pretty mind blowing at putting together a great team of engineers and … taking the people who worked in those fields in a less bold way, and really showing them up.
“I kind of doubt that will happen this time, but we should have an open mind and never underestimate Elon.”
Gates was concerned about the prospect that disinformation and misinformation would proliferate on the platform. Since he closed the deal for Twitter, Musk has, in the name of free speech, reactivated all accounts, including former President Donald Trump’s, that had been suspended for violating platform rules.
“You know, what’s his goal where he talks about the openness, and how does he feel about something that says vaccines kill people or … that Bill Gates is tracking people? Is that one of the things he thinks should be spread? So it’s still not totally clear what he’s going to do,” Gates said in May.
“Are his goals for what it ends up being — does it match this idea of less extreme falsehoods spreading so quickly [and] weird conspiracy theories? Does he share that goal or not?” Gates asked.
From the start of the covid-19 pandemic, millions of conspiratorial messages have spread across the internet, fueling misinformation about the coronavirus, its origins and the motivations of those working to combat it.
Gates had pledged to support vaccine makers and dedicate at least $1.75 billion to the global response to the covid-19 pandemic. The philanthropist then became the target of falsehoods and fantasies.
For some conspiracy theorists, Gates launched the pandemic, planned to vaccinate the world’s population, and even organized a health genocide and a general reduction of Earth’s inhabitants.
One particularly absurd bit about Gates that kept circulating on social media was that the billionaire intended to implant 5G chips with the vaccine against covid-19.
“I thought that just human judgment would work. And so far, at least under the stress of the pandemic, that hasn’t stopped the crazy stuff from getting out and kind of resonating with people in terms of — it’s a much simpler explanation to say that, you know, this person started the pandemic than that there’s this weird thing in biology…,” Gates said.