Update: Zuckerberg misdeeds include breaking into private e-mails (see bottom bullet)
Fast-paced news site Business Insider typically aggregates outside reporting and adds opinion. But early Friday morning, the staff rolled out some good old-fashioned investigative reporting. In an exposé on the contentious founding of Facebook, senior editor Nicholas Carlson shines a critical light on founder Mark Zuckerberg. (Catch up on recent debate around Zuckerberg's strategy, aggressive new patent, and Facebook's six-year evolution.) The piece makes for good reading and clearly they're proud of it: the site's editor-in-chief gave a long, excited Twitter pitch for it this morning. Here are some of the more interesting revelations.
- Zuckerberg Intentionally Hampered a Competitor Site As many know, Facebook's founding is contentious because three of Zuckerberg's classmates claim he stole their idea for the site. As they tell it, Zuckerberg agreed to develop HarvardConnections.com for them, but instead stalled the effort and developed his own site, thefacebook.com. While it's hard to say if anything was criminal, the story uncovers e-mails Zuckerberg sent to friends and colleagues that suggest he intentionally delayed their project. Here's one he sent to Eduardo Saverin while supposedly working on HarvardConnections:
Check this site out: www.harvardconnection.com and then go to harvardconnection.com/datehome.php. Someone is already trying to make a dating site. But they made a mistake haha. They asked me to make it for them. So I'm like delaying it so it won't be ready until after the facebook thing comes out.
- Zuckerberg Acknowledges Duplicity Also during the development stage, he writes to his boarding school friend, Adam D'Angelo:
Zuck: So you know how I'm making that dating site
Zuck: I wonder how similar that is to the Facebook thing
Zuck: Because they're probably going to be released around the same time
Zuck: Unless I fuck the dating site people over and quit on them right before I told them I'd have it done.
Zuck: Like I don't think people would sign up for the facebook thing if they knew it was for dating
Zuck: and I think people are skeptical about joining dating things too.
Zuck: But the guy doing the dating thing is going to promote it pretty well.
- More Evidence of Betrayal Carlson digs up an IM conversation with an anonymous friend of Zuckerberg's. They discuss how he's going to "resolve the competing projects":
Friend: So have you decided what you're going to do about the websites?
Zuck: Yeah, I'm going to fuck them
Zuck: Probably in the year
He Breaks Into Private E-Mails Business Insider also reports that Zuckerberg broke into e-mail accounts of Harvard Crimson journalists after hearing about a story the newspaper was writing about Facebook. Here's how they say he did it:
Mark used his site, TheFacebook.com, to look up members of the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. Then he examined a log of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members had ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. If the cases in which they had entered failed logins, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members' Harvard email accounts. He successfully accessed two of them.
In other words, Mark appears to have used private login data from TheFacebook to hack into the separate email accounts of some TheFacebook users.