Facebook users are spreading a message across the social network, claiming that Bill Gates will cough up $5000 if you share a photograph of him.
Here’s the message:
The photograph shows Bill Gates, holding a piece of paper which appears to contain the following words:
As you some of you may know, I’m Bill Gates. If you click the “share” link, I will give you $5000. It’s about time I give back to the people!
Bill Gates is an extraordinary charitable fellow, but he has far worthier causes to donate to than Facebook users who click a share button.
Despite that seemingly blindingly obvious fact, hundreds of thousands of Facebook users *have* shared the picture.
What those half a million Facebook users seem not to have realised is that the image has been Photoshopped to contain the bogus message from Bill Gates.
The genuine image, which the hoax picture is based upon, was used by Bill Gates to verify his identity on Reddit:
It’s trivial, with that original image to work from, for a mischief-maker to change the message displayed on Bill Gates’s piece of paper.
In fact, this isn’t the first time that the image of Microsoft’s founder has spread far and wide across Facebook. Last year, I reported how another doctored version of the Bill Gates image had been distributed with a slightly different image poking fun at Windows XP.
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?
Of course, all of these messages aren’t designed to harm your computer or scam you out of some hard-earned cash. But they are all contributing to the “noise” and misinformation on the internet, and are evidence of just how trusting computer users can be, and how willingly they will share messages with their friends without checking their facts.
If you share silly joke messages like this - whether you realise they are nonsense or not - you are helping to foster an atmosphere where forwarding hoaxes, dubious claims, dodgy links and chain letters is considered the norm.
And that means that your friends and family might find it harder to pick out when a scam or piece of malware shares a dodgy link via your Facebook account.
If you are on Facebook, and want to be kept updated with news about the latest hoaxes, security and privacy risks, and receive tips on how to protect yourself online, join the Graham Cluley Security News Facebook page.