Did Sarah Ferguson, the host of the Australian daily current affairs news program "7.30," pose several testy and loaded questions to Bill Gates when she interviewed him, resulting in Gates finally declaring, "OK that's enough. This interview is over. Thank you"? No, that's not true: It's a deepfake video circulating on social media.
Ferguson did have Gates as a guest on the "7.30" program, which aired in Australia on January 30, 2023. The broadcast interview lasted almost 13 minutes. The questions posed and answers given were not the same as those featured in the deepfake video. The topics featured in the real and the fabricated deepfake videos are not the subject of this fact check.
The real video of the televised broadcast was titled, "Bill Gates complained to tech companies about 'laughable' COVID-19 conspiracy theories | 7.30." It was posted to the ABC News Australia YouTube channel on January 30, 2021. The deepfake created from this interview was posted on TikTok by @bdti989 on March 7, 2023. The caption on this video indicates, without offering specifics, that this has something to do with artificial intelligence:
How dangerous AI can be 😱
#BillGates #billgates #microsoft #Microsoft #followformore #follow #msdos #uops #ups #ops #world #interview #interviews#artificialintelligence #ai
A copy of the deepfake video via another TikTok account, @zaba640, which was posted with no caption on March 7, 2023, was published on Instagram on March 8, 2023 by @red_pill_latina. It was captioned:
Not sure if this is real but the content is true
#billgates #elonmusk #jeffbezos #covid #warrenbuffet #motivation #business #entrepreneur #stevejobs #money #markzuckerberg #success #billionaire #quotes #agenda #billgatesquotes #warrenbuffett #nwo #g #trump #coronavirus #entrepreneurship #microsoft #millionaire #motivationalquotes #newworldorder #instagram #warrenbuffettquotes #forbes #wakeup
This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:
(Image source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thu Mar 09 17:56:07 2023 UTC)
The deepfake video is 1 minute 40 seconds long, while the original interview is almost 13 minutes. The exact software used to make this deepfake are not known. It appears voice cloning was used to create an audio track from a text transcript. The voices in the fabricated interview sound convincingly like Ferguson and Gates' real voices. The voice clone audio track was likely then used to create a lip-synched video. The deepfake video has white text captioning. Rather than being displayed outside the frame or along the bottom, the text was positioned across the faces of Ferguson and Gates as they speak. This helps to obscure the deepfake's artificial lip-sync movements.
The deepfake interview begins with the question, "So Mr. Gates, in your own words, what have you contributed to the world?" It goes on to question Gates' contributions to Microsoft software, involvement as a spokesperson for COVID vaccines and finishes by asking, "Is this a behavioral pattern ... 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?" At this point in the fake video, Gates ends the interview.
The authentic interview, posted on the YouTube channel of ABC News (Australia), is embedded below.
- The interview starts with questions of climate change and Australia's role as a leader in climate change.
- This turns to Australia as an exporter of fossil fuels at the 1:40 mark and the prospects of next-generation nuclear power.
- The next question, at the 3:31 mark, asks Gates his opinion on whether climate change or the next pandemic poses a more urgent threat.
- The topic shifts at the 4:47 mark to conspiracy theories about vaccines published online and what can be done to manage that.
- Ferguson asks Gates if he wishes Elon Musk hadn't bought Twitter at the 6:14 mark.
- At the 6:37 mark the conversation moves to philanthropy, the Gates' divorce and what will become of the foundation.
- Ferguson brings up Jeffrey Epstein at the 9:10 mark and "Melinda's advice and wishes" regarding that relationship and if it involved the Gates foundation.
- The final topic at the 10:01 mark is about artificial intelligence, what we should be preparing for and the dangers we haven't foreseen.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about Bill Gates can be found here.