"The Battle for Facebook" | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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"The Battle for Facebook" 

I haven't finished reading it yet, but Rolling Stone magazine has a fascinating story in its latest issue about the legal "blood feud" over who deserves credit for Facebook. The piece covers the history of the social-networking site, from its conception in a dorm room at Harvard to the enormous wealth it has brought the presumed creator, Matt Zuckerberg, who, according to Forbes is worth an estimated $1.5 billion.

But three of Zuckerberg's Harvard classmates say he stole the idea when they hired him to code a site they were building. The story paints Zuckerberg as a hyper-competitive star student who, when faced with other hyper-competitive stars at Harvard, turned to technology as an outlet for a growing bitterness.

One of the world's most popular networking tool was launched by a brilliant but ostracized nerd sitting alone in a dorm room. From his days at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was known as the prep school's top programming impresario, Zuckerberg has drawn on a powerful combination of isolation and entitlement to surpass his peers. He is a Nietzschean superdork for the digital age — a college student who gamed the system, propelled by a primal understanding of how to program computers to serve human needs. Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, the battle over the origins of Facebook prompts a fundamental question: Is Mark Zuckerberg's social-networking empire, like so many other great fortunes in history, founded on a crime?

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