Tweet about Eid gets second life as fake Bill Gates quote

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A screenshot of a tweet from Bill Gates addressing criticism of the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Adha has gained a lot of traction on social media. This tweet is fabricated. The Microsoft founder did not tweet on the matter, and the wording in the image exactly mirrors an existing tweet from a Kurdish student in Iraq.

Several Facebook accounts shared a screenshot of what appears to be a tweet from Microsoft founder Bill Gates on August 13. Its content addresses criticism of the Eid Al-Adha Muslim holiday, which took place from the evening of August 10 to the evening of August 11, 2019. During Eid al-Adha, which means the festival of the sacrifice in Arabic, it is customary for families who can afford it to ritually sacrifice an animal and share it with their community.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on August 15, 2019

Concerns over animal cruelty in regards to ritual sacrifice often sprout online around the time of the holiday, particularly in the West, and sometimes lead to petitions against the practice. The tweet points out a logical inconsistency in those who decry animal treatment in the context of Eid yet remaining silent on the industrial-scale killing of animals for international fast-food corporations such as McDonalds or KFC.

Although the Twitter handle and photo included in the tweet match those on Gates’ official Twitter profile, a search for the first words in the screenshot show no evidence of the tweet above.

Screenshot of Bill Gates' official Twitter account on August 15, 2019
Screenshot of a Twitter word search result on August 15, 2019

 

The same word search across Twitter shows that user @WolfieBabiee tweeted an identical point, including the same punctuation, abbreviations, and spelling mistakes, on August 10, three days before the majority of screenshots claiming authorship from Gates. The text was retweeted 48,000 times and “liked” 95,000 times.

Screenshot of a tweet on August 15, 2019

AFP Fact-Check spoke to @WolfieBabiee by phone, who said that she was the original author of the tweet. She said she is a 20 year-old business student from the Iraqi Kurdistan, but declined to have her name published for privacy reasons. 

She said she was not aware that the content had been shared as a Bill Gates quote, nor who might have done it.

“I’m not sure what the point of sharing a fake Bill Gates tweet is,” she said.

She explained that she had wanted to take part in the debate about animal cruelty in the context of Eid Al-Adha after seeing much criticism about Islamic rituals online.

Other Twitter users shared the fake tweet as a screenshot. With a real tweet, someone could have easily retweeted or quote tweeted the message rather than upload it as a screenshot.

Gates did not return AFP Fact Check’s email for a comment by the time of publication.