Facebook's Ethics

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Facebook's Ethics

Xah Lee, 2010-03-18

You know? Facebook.com today is the 2nd largest trafficked site as estimated by alexa.com, after google.com.

Just spent about 2 hours reading about Facebook.

Looks like the technology is quite good, however, its stance on ethics, is quiet shady, tracing back all the way to its origin at Harvard. I fully support capitalism and the free growth of ideas, but judging from facebook's track record on issues as discussed on wikipedia, its ethics is quite questionable. Here's a summary, followed by quotes from Wikipedia.

  • Facebook started as some Who's Hotter by student males. That is, 2 photos are shown, and you can click on who's hotter. Originally, one of the photo was suppose to be a animal. (thats how it became popular)
  • The guy broke into university photo database to steal the photos.
  • Facebook stole mate's ideas, betrayed trust, with tactics such as registering domain name first and trademark the name facebook, but done in a dishonerable secretive way.
  • Facebook got repeated complaints about their advertisement tactics, policy, user agreement terms change, abuse of user's data.
  • facebook once or still is, that when you delete your account or took off some data you uploaded, the facebook does not actually delete them.

Quotes from Wikipedia:

Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.[1] Since September 2006, anyone over the age of 13 with a valid e-mail address (and not residing in one of the countries where it is banned) can become a Facebook user...

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University.[citation needed][5] The website's membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It later expanded further to include (potentially) any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. The website currently has more than 400 million active users worldwide.[6]

Facebook has met with some controversy. It has been blocked intermittently in several countries including Syria,[7] China,[8] Vietnam,[9] and Iran.[10] It has also been banned at many places of work to discourage employees from wasting time using the service.[11]

Privacy has also been an issue, and it has been compromised several times. Facebook settled a lawsuit regarding claims over source code and intellectual property.[12] The site has also been involved in controversy over the sale of fans and friends.[13]


According to The Harvard Crimson, Facemash "used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the 'hotter' person". To accomplish this, Zuckerberg hacked into the protected areas of Harvard's computer network and copied the houses' private dormitory ID images.


Just six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, while he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product.[30]

The three complained to the Harvard Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. Zuckerberg used his site, TheFacebook.com, to look up members of the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. Then he examined a log of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members had ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. If the cases in which they had entered failed logins, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members' Harvard email accounts. He successfully accessed two of them.[30] The three later filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, later settling.[31]

Also, there's a entire article of 10.5 k words of facebook criticisms, with contents largely different from the above. Here's the article: Criticism of Facebook. Complaints, lawsuits, from governments, user groups of tens of thousands, corporations, computer scientists.

The guy who started facebook seem to be a aggressive scumbag. Perhaps he thinks of himself something alone the lines of “can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs”.

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