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

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,

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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.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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