The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports research into fighting malaria, including funding a company that releases genetically modified mosquitoes that are incapable of carrying the disease. But reports of locally acquired cases of malaria in the U.S. have sparked social media posts that baselessly suggest Gates was behind the recent outbreak.
Rockefeller Center is celebrating Pride Month with a display of rainbow flags to show it is “an inclusive and diverse space for all.” But an Instagram post uses an image of Pride flags at Rockefeller Center while falsely claiming it shows the “United Nations replaces all 193 country flags with LGBT flags.” The U.N. never changes its flag display, a spokesperson said.
The Republican majority leader of the Arizona Senate informed county election officials that a Senate resolution essentially bars electronic voting systems in the state. The state’s Democratic secretary of state and attorney general say the resolution carries no legal weight. Nonetheless, based on the resolution, a Facebook post misleadingly claimed the state “has banned electronic voting machines.”
Moderna’s CEO said in January that the company’s total production in 2019 was “100,000 dose,” referring to all its vaccines and therapeutics. Online posts distorted the remarks to falsely claim Moderna made COVID-19 vaccines “before the pandemic started.” Moderna’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines wasn’t ready until February 2020.
COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be safe and effective in trials and real-world conditions. Yet an online video baselessly claims a French life insurer refused to pay benefits for a man who died after receiving the vaccine because the insurer deemed it “a medical experiment.” It also falsely claims that the same has happened in the U.S.
A bill introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives last year said anyone getting an abortion should be “held accountable” for murder. The bill received little support and did not advance. But social media posts misleadingly claimed the state is considering a proposal that would “make it legal to murder a pregnant woman” trying to get an abortion.
There are life-threatening complications in which abortion is medically necessary, and social media posts claiming otherwise are incorrect, physicians said. “In some situations, abortion is the only medical intervention that can preserve a patient’s health,” the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told us.
A fund backed by Bill Gates has invested in a startup working to develop lab-manufactured breast milk, but it won’t reach the market for several years. Yet, social media posts make baseless claims that Gates is behind the current baby formula shortage — which stems from supply-chain issues and the shutdown at a major manufacturing plant.
Russian planes bombed a hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 9, killing three people and injuring at least 17, including two pregnant women seen in photos shared around the world. Social media posts falsely claimed one woman “posed” as the two women. One of the women died of her injuries, along with her baby; the other gave birth to a daughter.