Monday, December 03, 2007

Mark Zuckerberg Wants Privacy

A Boston federal court has rejected a motion by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to compel 02138Mag to remove "unflattering" personal documents from its website.

02138 is an independent Harvard newspaper, unaffiliated with the University. Its name reflects the campus zip code.

Among the documents it posted is Mark Zuckerberg's online personal diary.

The newspaper's article, Poking Facebook, explores ongoing litigation between Zuckerberg and his former Harvard colleagues over the origins and ultimately, ownership, of the original Facebook concept:

The media have mostly glossed over ConnectU Inc. v. Facebook Inc., now unfolding in a Boston courthouse. Most articles depict the case as either a cash grab or a blip on Facebook’s march to global domination. But interviews with people familiar with the lawsuit, and a close examination of court records, suggest that, at the least, the case raises troubling questions about the ethics of this new billionaire.

The plaintiffs are three Harvard grads: Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, twin rowers currently training for the Beijing Olympics, and Divya Narendra, who since graduation has worked in finance in New York and Boston. In 2002, the three friends dreamed up an online social network called Harvard Connection (subsequently renamed ConnectU), later asking Zuckerberg to finish programming it. Instead of fulfilling his end of the bargain, the plaintiffs say, Zuckerberg stole their ideas and source code to build his own competing social network. “We got royally screwed,” Narendra says in a deposition.

Now this four-year “blood feud,” as one judge described it, is set to finally play out. Court-authorized forensic data experts are rifling through Zuckerberg’s computer hard drives, searching for code and evidence of intellectual property theft. If they find anything, the ConnectU group hopes to take over Facebook, asks that the site be shut down, and demands damages equal to or greater than the site’s value. If they don’t, the case will likely be tossed out.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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