In the fall of 2021, Snopes readers asked us to clarify the facts surrounding widely shared online posts claiming that billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates — the subject of countless baseless COVID-19 and vaccine-related conspiracy theories — had made explosive and false claims that COVID-19 vaccines were "far more dangerous than anyone imagined," and should be withdrawn from circulation.
For example, on Aug. 30, 2021, the Malawian website Maravi Post published an article with the headline "Shocking! Bill Gates calls for the withdrawal of all Covid-19 Vaccines; 'The vaccines are far more dangerous than anyone imagined.'"
Similar articles, screenshots and memes were shared widely, on Facebook in particular, from late August and onward.
Those posts were erroneous. Gates had made no such remarks. The fabricated quotations, falsely attributed to him, actually originated in an article that was labelled as "satire" after it was first published, on the U.K. website TheExpose.uk (also known as TheDailyExpose.co.uk), which frequently publishes COVID-19 and vaccine-related conspiracy theories. As a result, we are issuing a rating of "Originated as satire."
When it was originally published on Aug. 29, The Daily Expose article reported that:
In a shocking announcement, Bill Gates, billionaire Microsoft co-founder and the major force behind the COVID-19 vaccines, called for all the COVID-19 genetic-based vaccines to be taken off the market immediately.
In an often anguished 19-minute televised speech, Gates said: “We made a terrible mistake. We wanted to protect people against a dangerous virus. But it turns out the virus is much less dangerous than we thought. And the vaccine is far more dangerous than anyone imagined.”
The Daily Expose subsequently updated its post, adding the word "SATIRE" to the headline, as well as the rather significant qualifier "In an alternative universe" to the claim "Bill Gates has called for the withdrawal of all COVID-19 vaccines." The piece was also given the following editor's note:
"...When we first published this article we should have made it clear at the beginning that it was satire rather than at the end. We did not do this and we apologise…"
However, while The Daily Expose has updated its original piece to include "satire" labels, several other websites, which re-published the bogus story without any indication that it was supposedly intended to be humorous, have not followed suit. This is one of several reasons why we cover satire and humor — content is routinely stripped from its original content, leaving readers with mistaken impressions about its authenticity and accuracy.