Gates to tap into social network to support his foundation

Microsoft leader wants to know how best technology can support his philanthropy

Bill Gates is giving social networking another try and will use the LinkedIn professional networking site to ask how technology can be better used to support his charitable causes.

On Thursday, Gates, the chairman of Microsoft who will officially become a part-time employee of the company in July, will post a question to 19 million users of LinkedIn via its question feature.

The feature allows the question to be broadcast to the entire LinkedIn network, which includes top executives representing all five hundred of the Fortune 500 companies, according to LinkedIn.

Every LinkedIn members will be able to post in real time answers to Gates's question.

LinkedIn says Gates will use the responses to further his philanthropic work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Last year, Gates ran into trouble with his Facebook site when he was overwhelmed with "Friends" requests and shut down his site. In October 2007, Microsoft invested US$240 million in Facebook.

As of December 31, 2007, the foundation's asset trust endowment stood at US$38.7 billion. It paid out more than US$2 billion in grants in 2007. The foundation supports work in more than 100 countries.

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