Bill Gates offers $5000 for Facebook sharing? It's just not that funny

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Spam

Bill Gates may be a billionaire, but if he's going to splash his cash around he's got better things to do with it than give it to people who simply share a photo of him on Facebook.

Bill Gates on Facebook message

That hasn't, however, stopped almost 400,000 people on Facebook from sharing an image of the Microsoft founder, holding an (obviously Photoshopped) message:

Hey Facebook,

As some of you may know, I'm Bill Gates. If you click that share link, I will give you $5,000. I always deliver, I mean, I brought you Windows XP, right?

Clearly, no-one is going to receive any money for sharing the image. And chances are that the picture was meant as a joke (although it would have been funnier if the message hadn said Windows Vista rather than Windows XP, or referenced Microsoft Bob, or reminded people of Bill Gates's claim that spam would be killed off by 2006).

On this occasion, the message being spread across is harmless. It doesn't trick users into clicking on a dangerous link, or fool them into installing a rogue application. It is, of course, adding to the general "noise" on Facebook and some might consider it unwanted spam.

But the more you share "jokes" like this, and the more used your friends and family become to you spreading such material, the more likely it is that you're fostering an atmosphere where forwarding chain letters, hoaxes and jokes is considered the norm.

And the more you share material like the picture above, the *less* out of place a *real* scam or malicious link will appear to your friends and family when your Facebook account gets compromised.

So, call me a kill-joy if you like, but jokes like this aren't necessarily going to end up with everyone amused.

Don't forget you should join the Naked Security from Sophos Facebook page, where we keep you up-to-date on the latest hoaxes, scams, security and privacy issues affecting Facebook users.

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24 Responses to Bill Gates offers $5000 for Facebook sharing? It's just not that funny

  1. Ben · 376 days ago

    People seriously believe Mr Gates will give away 2 BILLION dollars? Oh dear...

    • John · 375 days ago

      Anyone who shared this is a Moron. That would be a large percent of the population, though.

      • I'm pretty sure most of the people who shared it knew it was a joke. I shared it with my friends with the caption as a joke and no one took it seriously.

        • MegaMike · 375 days ago

          And, that's they way it should be done. Let's everyone know where you're coming from... ;)

  2. Adam · 376 days ago

    If I had a dime for how many times my friends have shared this picture... then again, if I had a dime for every dime I had...

  3. Jays · 376 days ago

    Haha, that is the verification image posted by him during the reddit AMA : http://i.imgur.com/vlMjEgF.jpg

  4. Jeremy · 376 days ago

    That message was from when he was on Reddit: http://i.imgur.com/vlMjEgF.jpg

  5. richpasco · 376 days ago

    He didn't get to be a billionaire by giving away $5000 for every Facebook share!

  6. ackermari · 376 days ago

    hey, you do know that pic was from when he was on Reddit: http://i.imgur.com/vlMjEgF.jpg

  7. machinshin · 376 days ago

    "It is, of course, adding to the general "noise" on Facebook."

    Adding to the "general noise on Facebook"? I though that is what Facebook was.... a very annoying general noise that is now all over the internet. Kind of like a mosquito that insists on buzzing right in your ear and won't go away.

  8. Gordon Richards · 376 days ago

    When my friends post pics like that... or the "Share if you love your dog."... or your Mother". It makes me wonder why we were "friends" in the first place. It always warrants a Change in what updates I get from them to 'Only Important'.

  9. I love how people easily fall for these things.

  10. Marie Gregoire · 376 days ago

    Last week, your article on preventing your fb friends from allowing their apps to expose your personal information did a nice job of providing a step by step directions for how to change your fb settings. I shared it with my fb friends.

    Would you consider documenting easy instructions on how a user should check out the validity of a message before they propogate, (Snopes, etc.) Thanks!

  11. You obviously have much more idea of what such things look like than I do. :)

    Hey, I'm just using the pic that has been shared on Facebook..

  12. gene · 376 days ago

    That began as an email hoax MANY years ago, promising Bill would give you, I don't remember how much, if you just forwarded the email. Of course there was no way then, or now, of telling how often you did any such thing. And it wasn't only Bill, there were plenty of others alleging the same silly thing. That people are still doing it only now via social media only proves there are still too many people with too much time on their hands.

  13. Cindy · 376 days ago

    Thank you for writing this. It's one of my pet peeves on Facebook. The cry wolf factor. Drives me nuts. Always research before you repost something.

  14. Joe · 376 days ago

    Many people only shared the image because of the surreptitiously added and somewhat disturbing item in the background. If you don't immediately know what it is, you may not want to know.

  15. snert · 375 days ago

    Seriously? He'll give me $5000! Oh my gourd! I'm gonna go to FarceBook and share that photo with all of my friends RIGHT NOW! I need $5000! I know all three of them will believe anything they see on FarceBook. I just hope the money doesn't have little choochoos in the corners.

    • Savalric · 87 days ago

      That happened to me last week... I'd rather have little spacemen in the bushes than choochoos in the corners.

  16. Kigana · 374 days ago

    Hey, Sophos guys, didn't you get the message of this pic?
    This is obviously a satire on hoaxes!

    Perhaps you do not have a sense of humour you're aware of.

    • We're well aware of satirical chain letters - after all, there have been plenty in the past.

      The problem is not just that many people aren't in on the joke, but also that they're just as much of a pain and an irritation as *normal* chain letters. It's just not that funny.

      • Kigana · 374 days ago

        Coming soon: Sophos NakedSecurity is going to warn us about taking part in internet memes. They're just as much of a pain and an irritation as *normal* chain letters. It's just not that funny. ;-)

  17. proud momma · 153 days ago

    there has be 1,743,433 shares on it now... o.O ppl really that stoopid?

  18. Savalric · 87 days ago

    So... when should I expect my 5 grand? Will it come by mail or should I provide my account number?

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.