Hot Site Facebook's CEO Accused Of Stealing Idea

Mark Zuckerberg, owner of Facebook, will discover next week whether he faces legal action for claims he stole the idea for the $1bn website.

A US judge will decide next week whether Mark Zuckerberg should go to court after three former classmates accused him of stealing the idea, software and business plan for the social networking website.

The three former Harvard students say 23-year-old Zuckerberg stole the idea for the site while working as a programmer on their own social-networking site - called ConnectU, the UK Registar reported.

If successful, Facebook could be shut down it was suggested.

Cameron Winklevoss, his twin brother Tyler and their colleague, Divya Narendra, recruited Zuckerberg to their social networking site when they were all students at Harvard University. They now claim that he deliberately stalled its progress, stole the source code, design and business plan, then set up his own rival. Facebook sped away while their site, now called ConnectU, was still in the traps. 'It's sort of a land grab,' Tyler Winklevoss has said. 'You feel robbed. The kids down the hall are using it, and you're thinking, "That's supposed to be us. We're not there because one greedy kid cut us out", the UK Guardian reported.

At the first court hearing on Wednesday they will ask a judge to shut down Facebook and transfer all its assets to them, plus damages. At stake is a large slice of pride, one of the most coveted prizes of the Web 2.0 goldrush and potentially millions, or even billions, of dollars. Last week Facebook signalled its ambitions by making its first acquisition, reportedly beating even Google to buy a web-based operating system called Parakey and fuelling bloggers' suspicions that Facebook could threaten the web's diversity by sucking the best of it into one place.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.