Bill Gates, like several billion other people, has kids. His eldest is named Jennifer Katharine Gates, and a chunk of the Internet seems to think that she looks identical to actress Rachel Leigh Cook. The problem with that is that she looks nothing like Cook, people have just been posting images of Cook labeled as photos of Gates for years. A search for her name on Google Image Search yields a wall of photos of Cook, along with one or two of the real Gates.
Admittedly, a couple of the images of Cook that pop up when you search for Gates are from pages trying to debunk the false claim. But because of headlines like “This Girl is rumored as Bill Gates Daughter Jennifer Katharine Gates” they end up feeding the fire.
On top of weird search results, there are no fewer than six Facebook pages and a pair of Twitter accounts purporting to be Gates while using photos of Cook. If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, there are also YouTube videos and a lot of spammy blog posts. A lot of what you’ll find amounts to creepy dudes leering digitally at a woman they think is related to Bill Gates.
The error — whether mistaken or deliberate — dates back to at least 2011, and has cropped up as recently as last month, but there doesn’t seem to be an immediately apparent patient zero. Because the photos of Rachel Leigh Cook are widely available as photos of Rachel Leigh Cook, it’s hard to find their first use as photos of Jennifer Gates.
It’d be shocking if this affected the lives of anyone involved at all, but it’s a strange reminder of the nebulousness of online identity. You may be Bill Gates’s daughter, but if a small mob of strangers on the Internet claim, even over the objections of others, that you’re Rachel Leigh Cook’s doppelganger, then to some extent that’ll stick. On the Internet, someone will always believe that you’re Rachel Leigh Cook.
And if you’re not Rachel Leigh Cook, apparently you're Kristen Stewart.