Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

"It may be time for a reckoning" with social media's role in spreading disinformation, Melinda Gates told "Axios on HBO" Monday — but she doesn't see that happening until after the pandemic ends.

Between the lines: Bill and Melinda Gates are clearly big believers in technology. But they've also seen firsthand the impact of disinformation, as they've become targets of conspiracy theories amplified and spread via social media.

What they're saying: "It's disappointing, quite honestly, when you see that level of vitriol on disinformation that you know isn't true," Gates said. "But on the other hand, I can also kind of understand it, right? I mean, people are home, they're anxious, they're losing their job. Their kid isn't in school."

Gates also said society may need to start holding social media companies to account for their role in helping such disinformation spread.

  • "I think it's up to society to start to figure out, 'OK, what do we do about that?' How do we think about disinformation in a society or how do we think about political ads and where they should be placed and what they do or don't get to say?" Gates said.
  • "So it might be time for some reckoning on that after this pandemic is over. I don't think in the middle of a pandemic, though, that that's what we're gonna get done."

The big picture: The pandemic is where Melinda Gates is focusing most of her attention.

Her foundation is out with a new report showing COVID-19 has led to a global increase in the number of people in poverty and a decrease in those being vaccinated for other diseases. In all, the report finds the world losing ground in all but one of 15 global sustainability goals established by the United Nations.

  • Some 37 million people's income fell below $1.90 per day, considered the global poverty line. "It's the difference between being able to put food on your table or not put food on your table and go hungry," Gates said, adding that, at $3 per day of income, families in much of the world can start saving.
  • Globally, vaccination rates plummeted as COVID-19 fears kept parents from taking their kids to the doctor. "What we know," Gates said, "is that 25 years of increased vaccinations that have saved children's lives all over the world was set back in 25 weeks."
  • Banking was the only category to see gains over the prior year, as governments around the world looked to get stimulus funding quickly into the hands of their populations. Gates said she expects that to prove lasting and meaningful, reducing graft and giving women more money to feed their families.

Meanwhile: Gates also blasted the Trump administration for neutering the CDC, politicizing basic health knowledge and pulling funding from the World Health Organization amid a global pandemic.

  • "We've had terrible leadership on this issue quite frankly," she said, reiterating that the U.S. hasn't improved on the "D-" grade she gave the administration's COVID-19 response back in May.
  • Nonetheless, Melinda Gates said she and Bill would not endorse a candidate in the presidential election. "We're always tempted," Gates said with a laugh. "But it's important for us as private citizens to, you know, keep our votes to ourselves and for our institution to be nonpartisan."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Wilson Center fellow warns of "disinformation laundering"

Axios technology correspodant Ina Fried (left) and Wilson Center disinformation fellow Nina Jankowicz. Photo: Axios

Experts are seeing malicious groups, both foreign and domestic, shift to more advanced campaigns of disinformation than they had in 2016, Nina Jankowicz, disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, said Wednesday at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: The method, called "disinformation laundering," targets false ideas or conspiracy theories that could become legitimized through media or public figures and politicians.

Dave Lawler, author of World
15 mins ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.

3 hours ago - World

Iran confirms assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadhe

The Iranian ministry of defense issued a statement on Friday confirming the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, an Iranian scientist and the architect behind the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Fakhrizadhe was the head of the Amad project in the Iranian ministry of defense, which focused on developing a nuclear bomb until 2003.