In Rolling Stone magazine's continuing efforts to be hip and with it, Claire Hoffman was granted dozens of column inches to detail the rise of Facebook, especially including the allegations that co-founder Mark Zuckerberg essentially stole the idea and reneged on promises of coding help to other Harvard students when he realized that he might have a business success on his hands. The list of aggrieved parties is long, starting with Harvard which punished Zuckerberg for invading other student's privacy by creating Facemash to the ConnectU founders and even Facebook's original co-founder, both of whom have sued Zuckerberg for various improprieties. But what does it all boil down to?
The school already had an online database known as the facebook ... The fact that a couple of other students had the same idea at the same moment doesn't mean he is a thief. And the fact that many consider Zuckerberg a grade-A asshole doesn't mean he did anything illegal. "There are lots of things that an average person might consider reprehensible that aren't against the law," says James Boyle, who co-founded the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. "I'd warn against assuming that the 'Ew, what a slimeball' reflex be equated with what is illegal."
Zuckerberg's immaturity and megalomania might make him intolerably arrogant to anyone around him, but that's pretty much what the Valley rewards. So unless it gets in the way of his management of the company (which it may yet), he has nothing to worry about.(Photo by Andrew Feinberg)