Facebook Gears Up For War With MA Magazine

02138.jpgThis is good. Last month, Harvard-centric magazine 02138 posted an extremely unflattering story about Facebook founder (and Harvard alum) Mark Zuckerberg that alleges all sorts of juicy things. Specifically, the fact that it’s beginning to look like he engaged in some serious computer code plagarism:

  • “Zuckerberg finds himself ensnared by several lawsuits, none more potentially damaging than that brought by three Harvard grads in the wake of Facebook’s 2004 launch. The recent graduates charged that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from them, and they have spent years in court trying to prove it.”

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

    And there’s more after the jump, including some legal hijinx that ended up with Facebook suffering a damaging setback in court.


  • “Then a sophomore computer science concentrator, he had recently gained campus notoriety by creating a website called “facemash” that flashed photos of two Harvard students side-by-side and asked users to click on the one they considered more attractive. To get the photos, Zuckerberg had hacked into school servers and copied pictures from house directories, informally known as facebooks. He suspected from the start that his program would land him in trouble.”

  • “Within days, Zuckerberg was talking to the Harvard Connection team and preparing to take over programming duties from Gao. The plaintiffs say Zuckerberg was briefed on the confidential nature of the project and the plan to expand to other schools, using the site as an advertising base. According to the plaintiffs, Zuckerberg was intrigued by the idea.”

  • “But for the next two months, the plaintiffs say, Zuckerberg made himself scarce. He postponed meetings, was slow to return calls and e-mails, and allegedly refused to let the team see his work. He offered a variety of explanations: His cell phone was muted, his computer science problem sets were taking up too much time, he forgot to bring his laptop charger home for Thanksgiving and his computer died. As the Harvard Connection launch date was pushed back week after week, the plaintiffs grew increasingly anxious.”

  • “In mid-December, Narendra and the Winklevosses finally met with Zuckerberg in his dorm room. Though nothing was ever put down on paper-an oversight that would weaken their subsequent case- they claim that they again promised Zuckerberg a fair share of any future revenue. Zuckerberg allegedly confirmed his interest and assured them that the site was almost complete. On the whiteboard in his room, Cameron says, Zuckerberg had scrawled multiple lines of code under the heading “Harvard Connection.” This would be the only time the plaintiffs saw any of his work.”

  • “On January 14, 2004, the Harvard Connection team went to talk to Zuckerberg once more; Zuckerberg informed them that he was involved with another project. […] On February 4, Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook.”

    Best of all, 02138 posted potentially damning documents from the case.

    In response, Facebook tried to force 02138 to take the documents down.

    As of today, they’ve failed, with Judge Douglas Woodlock ruling in favor of 02138.