Facebook's Close-Up Too Close?
It was interesting that the New York Times opted to use the gam shot for its weekend story on what makes a contract dispute–using the comely rower legs of one Tyler Winklevoss, one of two brothers who is suing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their business plan and technology for a social-networking service called ConnectU when he worked for them at Harvard as an unpaid programmer.
So far, the Winklevosses have struck out with the judge in the case, who has demanded more evidence than just “dorm-room chitchat”–you know, like contracts, nondisclosure agreements, even a smoking bit of source code–which has not been forthcoming.
Until either the Winklevosses or someone else can prove that Zuckerberg stole the exact code (similar is not good enough, by the way), it just looks like the 23-year-old entrepreneur essentially plagiarized a good idea and ran with it, which is icky, but not illegal.
Icky too is the relentless hype the company continues to garner, this week with Zuckerberg on the cover of Newsweek, in a good explainer article by Steven Levy (although it is a wee bit too interested in the also icky “poke” aspect of the site).
While I don’t begrudge Zuckerberg his time in the sun (OK, I did in this post), all this attention is building expectations that are too much for the service, no matter how fast-growing it is. I don’t have to say PointCast or Friendster or Epinions or AOL or Netscape or, well, I could go on, to make the point.