Facebook

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The origins of Facebook have been in dispute since the very week a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg launched the site as a Harvard sophomore on February 4, 2004. Then called "thefacebook.com," the site was an instant hit. Now, six years later, the site has become one of the biggest web sites in the world, visited by 400 million people a month. The controversy surrounding Facebook began quickly. A week after he launched the site in 2004, Mark was accused by three Harvard seniors of having stolen the idea from them. This allegation soon bloomed into a full-fledged lawsuit, as a competing company founded by the Harvard seniors sued Mark and Facebook for theft and fraud, starting a legal odyssey that continues to this day. New information uncovered by Silicon Alley Insider suggests that some of the complaints against Mark Zuckerberg are valid. It also suggests that, on at least one occasion in 2004, Mark used private login data taken from Facebook's servers to break into Facebook members' private email accounts and read their emails--at best, a gross misuse of private information. Lastly, it suggests that Mark hacked into the competing company's systems and changed some user information with the aim of making the site less useful. The primary dispute around Facebook's origins centered around whether Mark had entered into an "agreement" with the Harvard seniors, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and a classmate named Divya Narendra, to develop a similar web site for them -- and then, instead, stalled their project while taking their idea and building his own. The litigation never went particularly well for the Winklevosses. In 2007, Massachusetts Judge Douglas P. Woodlock called their allegations "tissue thin." Referring to the agreement that Mark had allegedly breached, Woodlock also wrote, "Dorm room chit-chat does not make a contract." A year later, the end finally seemed in sight: a judge ruled against Facebook's move to dismiss the case. Shortly thereafter, the...
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