Breaking: Mark Zuckerberg is Shady, Facebook is Shady, The Internet is Shady

So, get this shit. Business Insider reports that six years ago, someone invented a product that both revolutionized the way in which we connect with other people, as well as the way in which we share pictures of that one time we got extraordinarily drunk at that donkey show in TJ. And when they did it, they were sketchy.

Yes, yet again, another story about how you are being like, Stop, no, don't by which you mean Please, more, this is hot and Eazy-E Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is like Biiiiiiiiiitch.

Facebook's finely cultivated reputation for being a little too touchy-feely with your privacy is pretty out in the open, now, thanks to a bunch of bloggers, who basically looked at Facebook and explained how, in very plain sight, they are taking advantage of information you gave them that you had assumed was private. Much of the story of how it was founded by a savvy, hyper-capitalist Harvard kid is also kinda out in the open now, thanks to a book and an upcoming Aaron Sorkin-penned movie based on that book. People still don't care, and they'll continue to use it. Which is why it comes as a bit of a surprise that Business Insider is trying so hard today to push this story they have on yet another instance of Mark Zuckerberg being shady.

The story B.I.'s Nicholas Carlson posted today regards itself with a pretty grand title: "How Facebook Was Founded." Sounds definitive. Basically, their story boils down to this:

  • Eduardo Saverin, a shady Brazillian kid, was Facebook's first investor.
  • Mark Zuckerberg IM'd Saverin one night, and told Saverin that he was asked to make a website just like Facebook, called Harvard Connection, for two twin brothers named Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. And that he was delaying it for the launch of Facebook. And he basically IM'd Saverin telling him that he was going to "fuck" them. In the entrepreneurial sense.
  • But there's no evidence to suggest that Zuckerberg totally ripped his idea for Facebook from Team Harvard Connection, and nothing to really justify the $65M settlement the Winklevoss twins later received.
  • Also, Zuckerberg hacked into a Harvard Crimson reporter's Facebook account one time in 2004.
  • And also hacked into Winklevoss venture Connect U in 2004, wrote some dumb shit in their profiles, and made them harder to find on their own social network.

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Does any of this come as a surprise, though? Entrepreneurs have competition; this is not the first time in modern American history winning competitions over money has been shady. Facebook is a product predicated on you giving someone information that you once considered private. Why? Because you trust them with it! Even though someone once told you not to trust strangers, even if those strangers claim to be friendly people.

No doubt the Winklevoss brothers knew at some point that Zuckerberg had caused some mischief, but didn't make a stink about it because they probably have done some shady shit while founding a company, too. The question of what gives a reporter the ability to assess the value of a settlement also comes up: If I could pay $65M to get some people who bug the shit out of me to go away, then yes, I'd absolutely pay up. That price is a bargain for some people. Besides which, aspects of these things (like Saverin's participation in Facebook's creation) have already been detailed elsewhere.

On the other hand, whether you read Business Insider reporter Nicholas Carlson's (otherwise entirely commendable) Facebook reporting or not, and whether it's true or not -- where there's smoke, there's fire. And here, there's yet another headline and more allegations of Mark Zuckerberg building a billion-dollar baby by playing with his elbows out and being a sneaky little fuck. More allegations of really rich people who got really rich off of a product that you give your otherwise private information to by being cunning. And?

It's difficult to contain anything but a kneejerk sigh; it's hard not to be jaded about it. Because like most evidence that people have ensnared themselves in a corrupt system built with and by behaviors and ideas that our world would be better without, it's ostensibly a fun, exciting, scandalous yarn. But really, though, it's just another reminder of how long ago we became resigned to both condoning and contributing to the success of these enterprises. In order to stand against this kind of thing, I'd have to, at the very least, and as the very first step, give up my Facebook account. And I really don't care enough to do that.

Also, those donkey show photos are hysterical.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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