Friday, March 5, 2010

Behind the Facebook fortune lies great scumminess

Unfortunately, since the contents of [Mark Zuckerberg's] hard drive had not been made public, no one had the answers.

But now we have some. ...

In the fall of 2003, Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra were on the lookout for a web developer who could bring to life an idea the three say Divya first had in 2002: a social network for Harvard students and alumni. The site was to be called HarvardConnections.com.

The three had been paying Victor Gao, another Harvard student, to do coding for the site, but at the beginning of the fall term Victor begged off the project. Victor suggested his own replacement: Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard sophomore from Dobbs Ferry, New York. ...

Mark reportedly showed enthusiastic interest in the project.

Later that night, Mark wrote an email to the Winklevoss brothers and Divya: "I read over all the stuff you sent and it seems like it shouldn't take too long to implement, so we can talk about that after I get all the basic functionality up tomorrow night." ...

In December, 2003, a week after Mark's first meeting with the HarvardConnection team, when he was telling the Winklevosses that he was too busy with schoolwork to work on or even think about HarvardConnection.com, Mark was telling [Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin] a different story.  On December 7, 2003, we believe Mark sent Eduardo the following IM:
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.
--Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider, on Facebook's double-crossing origins


Sometime during the 14 days leading up to May 28 -- the editors at Harvard's student newspaper, the Crimson, received an email in the their "tips" inbox from Cameron Winklevoss, one of the founders of ConnectU.

This email presented the argument Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divvya Narenda had already brought to Harvard's Administration Board and to Mark Zuckerberg -- that TheFacebook.com was the product of Mark Zuckerberg's fraud against the ConnectU team. ...

[P]erhaps a day or so later, the Winklevoss brothers reached out to Tim McGinn again, this time to tell him that another Harvard rower -- one named John Thomson -- had told them that Mark had stolen something for TheFacebook from him, too. ...
 
Mark Zuckerberg was not content to wait until the morning to find out if the Crimson would include John's accusations in its story.

Instead, he decided to access the email accounts of Crimson editors and review their emails.  How did he do this?  Here's how Mark described his hack to a friend:

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.
--Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider, on Mark Zuckerberg's questionable online ethics

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