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)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.