Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

A legal faceoff over Facebook

Stephen Beard Jul 25, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

Lisa Napoli: A bunch of guys who went to Harvard together are facing off in court today. It all has to do with this suddenly everywhere social-networking site called Facebook and a would-be rival called ConnectU.

Stephen Beard says it’s the digital-age equivalent of stealing someone’s girlfriend.


Stephen Beard: The three people behind ConnectU accuse Mark Zuckerberg of fraud and theft of intellectual property. They claim that while they were students at Harvard, they asked Zuckerberg to finish writing some computer code for them.

They say they were planning a Web site designed to put people in touch with each other online. Zuckerberg apparently never finished the code — but started his own site, called Facebook. It’s attracted more than 30 million users worldwide. ConnectU has 70,000.

Tom Standage of The Economist magazine says the case could be a trial in every sense for Zuckerberg:

Tom Standage: Facebook has been called the “new Google”— Zuckerberg has been compared to Bill Gates and to Steve Jobs. But one of the things that makes them great is their ability to triumph over adversity. We haven’t seen that from Zuckerberg yet. But this is his first real test.

The ConnectU founders want the court to shut down Facebook.

Facebook, which last year turned down a $1-billion offer from Yahoo! — rejects the allegations. This is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.