Court will hear tales of social networking allegations in Facebook vs. ConnectU

A Boston judge is expected to decide this week whether or not to proceed with a lawsuit alleging that the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, stole the idea for the social networking site from three former classmates at Harvard.

Specifically, the founders of ConnectU, which was originally called HarvardConnection, Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevosss, claim that Zuckerberg stole the idea for the social networking site while he was recruited to develop a part of ConnectU.

The pending litigation originates from actions brought about in 2004. The lawsuit was refiled earlier this year on March 27.

Cameron Winklevoss has a record of 52 email exchanges and three meetings between his team and Zuckerberg, where the group discussed the ConnectU site.

Zuckerberg says that he voluntarily agreed to contribute six hours of coding for the ConnectU site, but denies that he had knowledge of it being a social networking system. Instead, he claims that he believed it to be a personal site to connect students, alumni and employers.

“I never really understood their product, but it was not a social networking site,” Zuckerberg said in a previous Stanford Daily story.

The lawsuit alleges that Zuckerberg intentionally delayed progress on his work for ConnectU by more than two months in order to give Facebook a jump for an earlier release. Facebook then launched in February, 2004 while ConnectU didn’t launch until May.

“It's sort of a land grab,” Tyler Winklevoss has said to the Boston Globe. “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.”

Representatives for Facebook said, “We do not comment on pending litigation,” while the founders of ConnectU were not immediately available.

The founders of ConnectU are now are pushing for U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock to shut down Facebook and give them control and profits of the website.

Facebook is expected to earn $125 million in ad revenue this year, and is worth more than $1 billion – a buyout figure presented, and later rejected, reportedly from Yahoo!

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