Facebook Tries To Keep Founder's Private Papers Off Internet, Fails

In a funny twist of fate, last week Facebook failed in its attempt to force a site to remove incriminating and/or embarrassing personal information about Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. We think Facebook missed a real opportunity here—they should have distributed the documents personally and attached ads to them.

What’s even more bizarre is that the information that’s now in the public eye had originally been sealed by court order during an earlier trial, and a reporter only got access to it through what appears to be an honest mistake by a records clerk. But now that it’s out there, it’s out there for good.

“[The reporter] said he had obtained the papers in mid-September from the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which considered a part of the case, where a clerk apparently made a mistake and let him read and copy sealed documents, along with those that were still supposed to be open to the public.

“There were a whole bunch of manila envelopes taped shut, clearly sealed, and I did not open those,” he said.

Some of the pages he copied were stamped “Confidential” or “Redacted.” Bom Kim, founder and editor of 02138, which is not affiliated with the university or its alumni association, said that gave him pause.

“We cleared it with our lawyers,” he said, who said that any order sealing the documents would apply only to the parties to the lawsuit. “We did wonder if they were under seal. But since we had obtained them legally, we got clearance.”

Below is the list of documents that the reporter was able to locate while doing research for his article.

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard Application
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s email to Harvard’s Administrative Board
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony #1
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony #2
  • Facebook Statement of cash flows 2005
  • Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss’s testimony
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s online diary
  • Statement of damage done to La Jennifer sublet

Wow, lack of privacy sucks! It’s too bad that it’s so difficult to keep one’s private documents (or online activities) out of the public eye. Oh well, la de dah.

“Poking Facebook” [02138]
“The Facebook Files” [02138]

“The Diaries of Facebook’s Founder” [Slate]
“Facebook Founder Finds He Wants Some Privacy” [New York Times]
(Photo: Associated Press)


Edit Your Comment

  1. n/a says:

    Guess he is no saint.

  2. shan6 says:

    Maybe he will take a good lesson away from this.

  3. Amelie says:

    He stole the concept of Facebook after working for some fellow college students with a similar networking site. [www.nytimes.com] His selling out of the Facebook community is par for the course. The flack he’s catching now, is payback. I hope he ends up on the street.

  4. protest says:


    it’s not like the reporter found this stuff via facebook, that would have taught him a “good lesson.”
    the only one he’s learned is that legal record clerks are so inept and underpaid that they’ll pretty much give anyone anything they request and let them make copies of it while they’re at it. that guy (or gal) should have been fired on the spot.

  5. hypnotik_jello says:

    Ahahahahaha, what a chump. The best read is his “online” diary. The bit about the farm animals… priceless

  6. forever_knight says:

    re: the damage to the apartment. the damage what kind of animal is he?! leaving that antique thingy outside to be destroyed. ugh. sounds like spoiled rotten kid if you ask me.

  7. ionerox says:

    Court clerks are unionized, fat chance the person will get fired.

  8. ElizabethD says:

    He sounds like a real Nice Guy. Not! Yay for journalists who stand up to rich bullies.

  9. Buran says:

    Always assume that anything you write or say is going to wind up online, and once it does, don’t bother trying to kill it — it will automatically get copied far and wide as a function of the net’s “route around censorship” feature.

  10. Skiffer says:

    @forever_knight: My thoughts exactly – they demolished that place…even beyond typical college student levels. Definitely snot-nosed overprivileged little whelps….

    Never had any desire to even check out facebook…now I have even less…

    Good read, though…

  11. jpx72x says:

    Anybody know what he got on the SAT?

  12. armour says:

    Part of the reason I would surmise for the documents to be sealed is that the case most likely will be going to a jury. If the information is published in the papers on the internet it makes it more difficult to find people that have no knowledge of the case to sit be impartial and not influenced by outside information.

    They may have gotten the information legally but if it sealed by one judge and released by mistake it should have remained that way till the completion of the case.

    Weather or not he stole the idea and material is up to the impending court case. Wouldn’t be the first time an idea has been stolen but also wouldn’t be the first time some one tried to jump in and make false claim on a successful one.

  13. kimsama says:

    @armour: And it can affect the admissability of evidence. For example, confidential attorney-client documents can become non-confidential if they are accidentally released because of a shoddy document categorization (i.e. confidential stuff is in with the doc review stuff you’re sending out), and there’s not a fast enough discovery that they were released and not a fast enough push to get them back.

    IANAL, so I’m just going on what case law I have read.

  14. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    @jpx72x: He got into Harvard. Does it really matter at this point?

  15. pyloff says:

    I feel filthy even reading about this guy. He comes off as a real prick even in his “defense” letter.

  16. Buran says:

    @kimsama: Tell that to the guy who lost a lawsuit based on a document that he was sent, that the government demanded back, and that the judge then refused to allow him to admit into evidence — even though it was proof of his case and was given to him anyway.

    How is it admissible here and not there? Honestly, why didn’t his lawyer say “by sending this to us, you released it, therefore we will use it in court”? If they can hold anything you do/say against you, why can’t you do the same?

  17. jpx72x says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Just wanted to see if I beat him at anything other than my bank account. (sarcasm)

  18. overbysara says:

    oh zing

  19. cde says:

    @protest: If you RTFA, you can see that the envelope with the information given out was not like the other sealed envelopes.

  20. Thaddeus says:

    Mark Zuckerbergs Stauts:

    Mark is OhNoez!

  21. kimsama says:

    @Buran: Excellent question. It all depends on a lot of things, actually. The number of documents released for review compared to the number accidentally included that are supposed to be confidential (the ratio between intentionally released and accidentally released documents) is important, as is the amount of time the parties involved had to gather documents, as is the system used to determine how the documents were categorized (i.e. how and by whom they were separated into confidential and nonconfidential files), as well as other elements (the type of document released, etc)

    Because it’s based on a ton of variables, it’s not an easy call. I’d also assume the skill of the lawyers involved in arguing and the precedent they cite has a lot to do with it. IANAL, though, so you can probably get better, more detailed information from your friendly local lawyer.

    Tough luck for that guy, though. It could be that it was decided on a combination the above elements (or other relevant facts) that the document should not be admissible.

  22. aikoto says:

    It’s fine to violate privacy as long as it’s not your own, huh? Serves him right.

  23. aro says:

    I tried to “friend” him on facebook. you cant.

  24. Karma is a mother…

  25. Blueskylaw says:

    That picture of him is scary. Is he morphing into Steve Jobs with hair?