The Diaries of Facebook's Founder

Primary sources exposed and explained.
Nov. 30 2007 6:36 PM

The Diaries of Facebook's Founder

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old founder and chief executive of Facebook, launched the phenomenally successful social-networking site while he was a sophomore at Harvard. Facebook's forerunner was the somewhat more risqué  Facemash, a Harvard version of Hot or Not. Facemash paired random pictures of Harvard undergraduates and invited users to vote on who was more attractive. Setting up Facemash required Zuckerberg to hack into protected areas of Harvard's computer network so he could copy and incorporate dormitory ID images from Harvard's Kirkland, Eliot, and Lowell houses. In response, Harvard's disciplinary administrative board placed Zuckerberg on academic probation.

While he was assembling Facemash, Zuckerberg kept an online journal, and like most college students, he didn't think very hard about who might end up reading it. Now a full-fledged tycoon, Zuckerberg has long since taken his journal offline. But a choice excerpt has been repatriated to the Web by 02138, a magazine directed at Harvard alumni. In the journal (see below and Page 2), Zuckerberg calls one fellow student (name redacted by Slate) a "bitch," admits he's "a little intoxicated," and ponders whether he should pair certain photographs from the Kirkland House facebook with "pictures of farm animals." Then he gets to work procuring online copies of student photos: "Let the hacking begin."

Advertisement

This and other documents potentially embarrassing to Zuckerberg that 02138 has also posted online form the basis of an article by Luke O'Brien titled "Poking Facebook" in 02138's November/December issue. Facebook has filed two court motions to compel 02138 to remove the documents from its Web site. "If you're interested," advises executive editor Richard Bradley, "read these things now."

O'Brien's piece focuses on a lawsuit filed against Zuckerberg by founders of the rival site ConnectU. In the lawsuit, ConnectU's three founders allege that Zuckerberg stole programming codes from their site to create Facebook. The ConnectU founders were seniors at Harvard when Zuckerberg was a sophomore, and they approached him to work on the project with them. Zuckerberg spent some time on it but never completed the work. Instead, he launched Facebook. In a petition to Harvard's administrative board, the three upperclassmen alleged that Zuckerberg stalled them while he incorporated their ideas into Facebook. Zuckerberg replied to this accusation with indignation (Pages 3-5), stating at one point, "I don't have much time to spend fending off peoples' claims to work which is clearly my own." The "ad" board ruled in Zuckerberg's favor. In a deposition for the ConnectU lawsuit (Page 6), Zuckerberg credits an editorial in the Harvard Crimson with inspiring him to develop Facebook's privacy controls.

Got a Hot Document? Send it to documents@slate.com. Please indicate whether you wish to remain anonymous.

1_123125_2137821_2156517_2177236_2178938_zuckerbergatwork1a

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.