Bill Gates $5000 giveaway hoax
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Bill Gates $5000 Giveaway Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating photograph depicts Bill Gates holding a sign that claims he will give $5000 to every user who shares his picture on Facebook. 

Brief Analysis

The message is just a silly hoax. Bill Gates is certainly not giving $5000 to those who share a picture on Facebook. The prankster behind the hoax has digitally altered a photograph of Gates holding up an entirely different sign. This prank clearly pays homage to a very old hoax that claimed that Microsoft would pay people for forwarding an email message.

Example

Bill Gates $5000 giveaway hoax image

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 your Windows XP, right?

 

Detailed Analysis

Is Bill Gates giving $5000 to every person who shares his picture on Facebook? No, of course, he isn’t!

The image, which has circulated via Facebook, for several years, depicts Gates holding a sign claiming that he will give $5000 to those Facebook users who click the “share” link for the picture. Not surprisingly, however, the message is just a hoax. 
The prankster who launched the hoax took the image shown below – posted on Reddit – and replaced the contents of the sign with the false giveaway claim:

In 2013, Gates, in his capacity as Chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  participated in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session to answer user queries about the Foundation. He submitted the above picture – featuring the message ‘Hi! Reddit! this is bill gates’ – so that Reddit users could verify that it was really him participating in the session.

Many users will immediately recognize the doctored picture as just a rather harmless leg-pull. Nevertheless, at least a few apparently believe that the claims are true and have shared the picture in the forlorn hope of receiving their $5000.

This hoax clearly pays homage to that all-time classic of email pranks, the Microsoft Beta Test hoax. Beginning as far back as 1999, email and social media messages have been circulating that falsely claim that Bill Gates and Microsoft are running a beta test and are therefore paying people to forward or repost a specific message.

The ‘beta test’message is, of course, utter nonsense, but has nevertheless managed to dupe wide-eyed Internet users into resending for well over a decade.

Bill Gates With Sign - Original Image

The original, unaltered photograph

Research by David White and Brett Christensen



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer