FACT CHECK: Did Bill Gates Buy Telegram For $600 Million?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a Fox News segment reporting billionaire Bill Gates bought the messaging platform Telegram for $600 million.

Verdict: False

The Fox News chyron has been digitally altered. Representatives for Gates and Telegram have refuted the claim.

Fact Check:

Telegram was built by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, according to The Verge. The encrypted messaging app reached over 500 million active monthly users in January, founder and owner Pavel Durov said in a Telegram post.

Now, an image being shared online has attempted to suggest Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, bought the platform for $600 million. The image features an alleged Fox News chyron that appears to report on the purchase.

However, Telegram has not announced the supposed purchase by Gates on its blog. Nor has Pavel Durov said the app has been purchased on his Telegram channel or Twitter account. Check Your Fact didn’t find any reporting about the alleged acquisition on the websites of tech-focused news outlets such as The Verge, Gizmodo and TechCrunch.

There is no record of Fox News reporting about the alleged purchase on its website or on-air, either. The screen grab of the Fox News broadcast in the image has been doctored to make it seem like “America’s Newsroom” did a segment about it. The original chyron said, “Celebrities Push Back Against ‘Cancel Culture,'” according to the video-clip editing service Grabien.

Fox News spokesperson Caley Cronin confirmed to Check Your Fact in an email that the chyron is fake. (RELATED: Did Fox News Report That ‘Joe Biden Has Been President For Nine Hours And 400,000 Americans Are Dead’?)

Telegram’s press team directed Check Your Fact to a statement they gave to Reuters, which said, “Telegram remains fully owned by Pavel Durov.” Pavel Durov also said in a December 2020 Telegram post that “we are not going to sell the company like the founders of Whatsapp” and in a January 2021 post that the platform “doesn’t have shareholders or advertisers to report to.”

Check Your Fact reached out to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for comment and will update the piece if a response is provided. The foundation previously told Reuters that Gates “has no financial relation with Telegram.”

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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