Terry Pratchett warned Bill Gates about fake news back in the ’90s

The Microsoft man wasn't having any of it...

Terry Pratchett warned Bill Gates of how fake news would affect the internet, an unearthed interview has revealed

Posting on Twitter, journalist Marc Burrows – who is penning a book on Pratchett’s life – shared an image of a 1996 magazine, where the novelist spoke to Microsoft’s head honcho.

Captioning his find, Burrows said that the fantasy writer had “accurately predicted how the internet would propagate and legitimise fake news”, adding that “Gates didn’t believe him”.


“There’s a kind of parity of esteem of information on the net,” Pratchett told Gates in GQ. “It’s all there: there’s no way of finding out whether this stuff has any bottom to it or whether someone has just made it up”.

Unconvinced by the theory, Gates replied: “Not for long. Electronics gives us a way of classifying things. You will have authorities on the Net and because an article is contained in their index it will mean something.”

You can read the conversation above.

In a follow-up post, Burrows highlighted a section in which Gates predicts DVDs and Netflix. “Everything we’re talking about will have screens to guide you and when you pause there’ll be a built-in personality that’ll immediately jump in and help you,” he said later in the interview.


He went on to explain that “VCRs will be obsolete within ten years” and that “disc players” and “media across the network” would follow.

Terry Pratchett died back in 2015 at the age of 66.

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