A photograph shows a genuine headline from an Irish tabloid known for its conspiratorial and misleading content. While this tabloid no longer appears to be in print, archived versions of these pages are still online.
In June 2011, an Irish tabloid known for publishing conspiratorial content called "The Sovereign Independent" published an article about Bill Gates that carried the misleading headline "Depopulation Through Forced Vaccination: The Zero Carbon Solution!"
An image of this newspaper article resurfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 along with a variety of false claims. Social media users claimed, for example, that this newspaper was proof that the pandemic had been "planned." Others claimed that this article had been "scrubbed" from the internet — a false claim to make this article appear extra nefarious — and that the pandemic was somehow connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
This is a genuine image of a headline that was published in an Irish tabloid in 2011. But this headline is misleading, this article isn't proof of a planned pandemic, COVID-19 is not related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and this newspaper has not been "scrubbed" from the internet.
The Sovereign Independent was an Irish tabloid that started publishing circa 2009. While the website is still live, it is full of broken links and images and appears to have last been updated in 2014. An archived copy of the above-displayed headline can be seen here. In other words, it has not been scrubbed from the internet.
It should also be noted that this was not a "newspaper" with a credible track record of reporting. Rather, this tabloid trafficked in conspiracy theories, promoting content from organizations such as AE911Truth, a group that believes 9/11 was the result of a controlled demolition, not a terrorist attack, and Infowars.com, the website operated by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who falsely claimed for years that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a "false flag."
The June 2011 issue of "The Sovereign Independent" where this Gates headline comes from, for example, included an article from PrisonPlanet.com, an offshoot of Infowars, claiming that the death of Osama Bin Laden was a hoax.
The "Depopulation Through Forced Vaccination" headline deals with a well-trodden conspiracy theory that is based on a relatively simple misunderstanding. While many see the word "depopulation" and think of something like genocide (the implication here is that Gates wants to kill people via vaccinations), that isn't the case here.
Gates does view the rising human population as a problem, and he truly has focused on efforts to slow population growth. But these efforts were not based on killing people. In fact, the opposite is true. Gates found that population growth can be slowed by keeping people alive.
One initiative, for example, focused on providing easy access to birth control (less babies means less people). Another imitative focused on providing access to medical care and vaccines. The thinking here, as explained in the 2009 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Annual Letter, is that you can slow population growth by lowering the mortality rate, especially among children.
A surprising but critical fact we learned was that reducing the number of deaths actually reduces population growth … Contrary to the Malthusian view that population will grow to the limit of however many kids can be fed, in fact parents choose to have enough kids to give them a high chance that several will survive to support them as they grow old. As the number of kids who survive to adulthood goes up, parents can achieve this goal without having as many children.
We took a more in-depth look at the conspiracy theories surrounding Gates, vaccines, and depopulation here.