Unfounded fears about governments microchipping citizens predate the new coronavirus, but we’ve debunked chipping claims inspired by the pandemic, too. To recap: The United States isn’t developing a vaccine with a chip to track people, Democrats aren’t pushing for “an implanted microchip in humans and everyone to be vaccinated,” and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, did not say every American should be microchipped.”
A recent Facebook post ups the ante, alleging that Americans will need to forgo any medical care if they want to avoid getting chipped.
“Due to the large number of people who will refuse the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine because it will include tracking microchips, the Gates Foundation is now spending billions to ensure that all medical and dental injections and procedures include the chips so that they only way to avoid being ‘chipped’ will be to refuse any and all dental and medical treatment,” the post says. “Please repost this information in as many media as possible to help this important warning to go viral. They will not be allowed to pull the wool over our eyes if freedom loving independent thinkers everywhere stand up to them and make the world aware of this scheme.”
More than 44,000 people heeded this call and shared the post, which was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
It also drew hundreds of comments, and not all of them were charitable. Between vows from people saying they wouldn’t be chipped, many users called him crazy among other names we won’t print here. “Fake made up post!” someone wrote.
We think the person who published the claim might agree. On May 17, the account shared this quote attributed to “Metallica drummer Bob Dylan” (who bears a startling resemblance to Prince): “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet about COVID-19.”
Microchip implants for health care purposes is not a new idea, but we found nothing to support the claim that the Gates Foundation is spending billions to ensure all medical procedures include microchips.
Other fact-checkers, like FactCheck.org and Reuters, have already debunked claims that Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder-turned-philanthropist, plans to use microchip implants against the coronavirus.
Research unrelated to coronavirus and funded by the Gates Foundation proposed using invisible dye that could be read by a smartphone to record vaccination history on patients’ skin. The idea was proposed to help strengthen vaccination record-keeping in developing countries. But Kevin McHugh, a Rice University bioengineering professor who worked on the study, told Reuters that “the quantum dot dye technology is not a microchip or human-implantable capsule, and to my knowledge are no plans to use this for coronavirus.”
Dr. Wilbur Chen, an infectious disease scientist at the University of Maryland’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, previously told PolitiFact that injecting someone with a vaccine containing a small radio-frequency identification technology chip is preposterous.
“Even the smallest version of RFID chips are rather large that none would ever fit into a vaccine needle — these are very small-bore needles,” he said. “The RFID chips that are routinely used for the tracking of pets are as small as a grain of rice … or in other words, they are as large as a grain of rice, and no vaccine needles in use are that large in diameter.”
Though tracking technology has been used to combat the coronavirus — in Singapore, China and South Korea, for example — human-rights groups have privacy concerns. But any worries about widespread microchipping don’t reflect what’s actually happening.
“The fear of insertion of tracking chips and other things like that into our bodies has been a longstanding bogeyman for theorists,” said Mark Fenster, a University of Florida law professor who has written extensively about conspiracy theorists and spoke to PolitiFact for another microchipping fact-check. “There is a lot of tracking that goes on, but the suggestion that it’s being used in this manner and this way seems absurd. This comes from the stream of conspiracy theories of the last 50 years. It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with conspiracy theories.”
We rate this Facebook post False.
PolitiFact, No, the Australian government is not installing microchips in citizens, May 6, 2017
PolitiFact, No, the US isn’t developing a vaccine or ‘antivirus’ with a chip to track people, April 3, 2020
PolitiFact, No, Democrats aren’t pushing microchips to fight coronavirus, April 23, 2020
PolitiFact, Dr. Fauci didn’t say Americans should be ‘microchipped,’ May 19, 2020
PolitiFact, Post about Bill Gates’ work on vaccine tracking distorts research, timeline, April 9, 2020
FactCheck.org, Conspiracy theory misinterprets goals of Gates Foundation, April 14, 2020
Reuters, False claim: Bill Gates planning to use microchip implants to fight coronavirus, March 31, 2020
The Atlantic, Why you’re probably getting a microchip implant someday, Sept. 21, 2018