Fake, Combative Dialogue Added To Bill Gates Interview

FILE - Bill Gates speaks during the Global Fund's Seventh Replenishment Conference, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in New York. On Friday, March 9, 2023, The Associated Press reported on an interview with the Microsoft co-founder that was edited to add fake dialogue. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

CLAIM: Video of an interview between an Australian journalist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates shows the two sparred over what he has contributed to the world, and whether he has a behavioral pattern of stealing complex technology and profiting from it.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This made-up dialogue was edited into the original interview, which didn’t address these topics. The audio appears to have been generated by artificial intelligence tools, according to an expert in manipulated media.

THE FACTS: The altered clip circulating widely on social media this week appears to show Gates and a female journalist sitting across a table from each other in a contentious exchange.

“In your own words, what have you contributed to the world?” she appears to ask. “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I created the world’s most popular computer operating system,” Gates seems to reply.

She then appears to challenge him on that and other points, suggesting he profited billions from COVID-19 vaccines, and asking him if he has a behavioral pattern of “taking technology from other people that you don’t understand, selling a product full of bugs, causing massive damage and profiting from it in a spectacular way.”

After a few more tense back-and-forths, Gates appears to end the interview abruptly.

However, an internet search and a closer analysis of the clip reveal that it has been altered from the original interview, which was cordial and featured different dialogue.

The original interview video, published by ABC News Australia in January, covered different topics than those featured in the clip, including new AI tools, climate change, philanthropy, misinformation and dinners Gates had with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, which Gates has repeatedly said he regrets.

An analysis of the video and audio also shows the audio in the clip circulating on social media does not exactly match the facial movements in the video.

“This is obviously a fake,” confirmed Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley. “In addition to having access to the original for a point of comparison, the lip-sync in the fake video is quite poorly done. It does seem like the audio is AI-generated.”

Farid said while it is difficult to sync audio and video with today’s easily-accessible AI tools, that will change as the tools improve. He urged people to stop sharing sensational and obviously fake content, understanding “that we all have a responsibility to create a trusted online ecosystem.”

The altered clip also spreads some false or unverified claims, including the unfounded claim that COVID-19 vaccines have killed large numbers of people. Deaths caused by vaccination are extremely rare.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation confirmed the audio in the altered clip was fake.

This story has been updated to add a response from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.