back to article Facebook was my idea, says yet another ex-Harvard student

Another former Harvard student has come forward claiming to have invented a precursor to social networking giant Facebook. Aaron Greenspan has written an unpublished book detailing his claims. Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook, a company based on a social networking website that was originally open only to college …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US patent law

    Haha ... i'm spartacus!!

    Also this does sound similar to so many patents which are held on an idea rather actually getting something out there.

    From the sounds of it Harvard is just over flowing with wannabe big players and no doubt they have lots of ideas during their time there but the first lesson they should learn is about doing it, getting it to market and then sitting pretty rather than the lazy approach the US patent system allows - (patent a very very vague idea and wait for someone cleverer than you to make something that fits it then sue them).

    Welcome to the real world you cry babies. If you're that clever come up with a new idea, sue or shut up, hiding in a book is cowardly and only makes you look like a moaning mindy!

  2. Tim Lake

    Oh come on!

    I'm sure every great succesful idea has taken influence, suggestion etc from many sources. Whether or not the core idea is yours, the person who made it available to the market is the one who get the money. It has always been this way and always will be. Pissing and moaning that they beat you to it will not win favour... or court cases

  3. Pete Silver badge

    it's not the idea, it's the implementation - stoopid!

    Ideas (like facebook, better moustraps, plans to save the world etc.) are ten-a-penny. Everybody has them. What turns them into the killer app. and makes a fortune for the person who "thinks" of them is not so much the original idea, but the way it's put together, promoted and scaled-up into a successful operation.

    To go crying on that idea you dreamt up in the pub, but didn't follow through with - or made a mess of, and is now a success for someone else is, frankly, what you'd expect of a small child (tho' they wouldn't have thought of it in the pub).

    Here's an idea: Nikolay Valuev the world heavyweight boxing champ should fight John Ruiz. Does this mean I should make millions if they do fight? No of course not. The idea is trivial and the money goes to the people who put in the hard work and have the talent to make it a success.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Facebook was my idea" -- So what ???

    "Facebook was my idea"

    So what? You cannot copyright an idea, only the specific text and graphics used to implement it. Nor, if the US patent system wasn't irretrievably broken beyond repair, should it be possible to patent an idea, or even a specific implementation of it.

    He could possibly have obtained a trademark on the NAME but that's the maximum extent to which he could and should have been able to protect the "idea". And presumably he didn't even do that.

    Please, lets not have yet another round of stupid "get lawyers rich quick" farces. Facebook exists, the complainant's site presumably doesn't. So there's nothing that could or should be worthy of argument.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually I invented Facebook

    Called it Posters at the time. It was during a school exchange program and this was basically a sophomore joke. A couple of friends and I talked about how to build the ultimate social engineering virus and I came up with this idea.

    Of course, the code was basic because the Internet wasn't so developed, but on a LAN it worked fine. Since there was little possibility, at the time, of doing anything with it, I just left the thing lying around on the demo PC I had used.

    I had no way of imagining that the PC would survive for years, to say nothing of guessing that someone would come and hijack my code years later.

    Given that no proper hijacker would leave any traces, I do suppose that my original code is gone, so there is no use trying to sue. But hey, a book deal - that's not so bad.


  6. Andraž Levstik

    How about we all admit...

    ...that social sites are really really really annoying and lame and should be wiped from the face of the net...

    If you can't figure out how to make your own site/page then don't have a site/page or ask a friend to make it for you...

    The net should be linked with countless pages interlinking here and there... Not having it divided into 3 HUGE databases that are interlinked...

  7. Steven Foster

    Boo hoo

    Like other people have said, it's not about who has the "idea" first, it's about who takes that idea and makes it work.

    The concept of social networking is hardly new, I'm sure plenty of people thought it would be a great idea x years ago.

    Just another case of attention seekers looking for their 5 minutes of "fame".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inventions in my name

    I can lay claim that I invented:

    1. The East Asian keyboard. My idea was first published in an article in Computing magazine way back in the late 1980's.

    2. The lounge/multimedia system, currently so popular. I had a SuSE box, remote keyboard and mouse, in my lounge that was hooked up to my telly and sound system plus a broadband connection in 2001.

    Should I sue the pants off East Asian keyboard manufacturers and Alan Sugar's well-known group of companies? I don't think so. The satisfaction that I got there before most of the masses is pleasure enough. Maybe, just maybe, someone did pick up my idea in Computing all those years ago and brought out the East Asian keyboard and claimed it for their own.

    So what? Well, I am more than happy that at least millions of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are now able to type in their own language and very contended to sit back and enjoy my home-made multimedia system.

  9. Lickass McClippers

    Scott Evil...

    ...why is it everytime I see one of these stories I'm reminded of Scott Evil..??

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm Brian!

    And I too invented Facebook!

    Pretty soon it's going to have more inventors than members.

  11. Ian

    No, I really did invent it.....

    Launched October 2002, name of studentUK - all the core functionality there.

    But it went titsup. Too much, too soon ;-)

    Mind you, being owned by Jarvis was the kiss of death (literally if you were travelling on railways)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm Brian and so is my wife

    I have no sympathy for those ConnectU guys. There's three of them and they couldn't get their site off the ground before Zuckerberg did. I say, screw 'em. You snooze, you lose, guys - simple as that.

  13. Luke Wells

    Its about time we found out who was behind it.

    Yes, lets find out who was really behind facebook, so that we can throw eggs at them or something.

    Am I the only person who is sick to death of hearing about social networking sites.

    I get called a geek for working in IT, but I am no-where near geeky enough to ever have a profile on a social networking site.

  14. Cambrasa

    Facebook is to obvious to be called an original idea.

    I am sure tens of thousands of it students on universities spanning this planet had this very same "idea". But only one guy had the funding and skill to develop it into a product with *good user experience*. And to market it successfully. It takes a lot more than an non-so-original idea to be successful. So stop moaning. And besides, social networking sites have been around long before facebook.

  15. Andrew Moore

    I invented Facebook...

    ...and so did my wife.

  16. Olly Molyneux

    @Luke Wells

    Here here. Me too.

    I'd actually rather peel my face off than put a profile on one of these bloody sites. Next year it'll be "facepedia" or something equally banal that everyone will be banging on about.

    And that was my idea btw...

  17. tim


    oh ffs, facebook, myspace etc etc they're all shite its just a revamp of geocities and that ilk. utter utter crap. worth 10bn my arse why is worth that ? it has no value no use and will be devoid of people in two years time. its populated by empty accounts, spammers and kids (and a whole bunch of billy no mates).


  18. Peter Kay

    Facebook - nothing original

    The only advantages Facebook has is that it's well designed, and thus much more useful than the pile of crap called Myspace. Also, it has addons and an API to the site, which isn't new either but is occasionally diverting.

    10bn? I wouldn't pay to use it, let alone buy it, and if they ever charge for it will quit immediately.

    I'm not seeing Lucasarts, David 'Dr. Cat' Shapiro or Origin suing Blizzard because they were running an MMORPG years before Blizzard made it big. It's only the guys with naff all money, who are unwilling or unable to put the effort in who sue. Funny that.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    facebook hardly an orginal idea

    Couldn't be argued that social networking has been around long before with hotornot (yes, it's just a sodding profile and you can contact people) and that annoying facepic site, i can think of more - wait, msn used to have a messenger profile...

    all honesty couldnt give a flying poo, theyre all toss

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Why do these people choose such sillyNAMES?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I invented Facebook

    For years, I have had friends who attend several different universities and some who did not. We all rarely speak to each other and some of us wouldn't know each other in person. I have their phone numbers, e-mail addresses, screen names, addresses and other information. I'm sure it is mostly worthless. I have even had employers ask me about them and pictures of them I have.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I invented Flicker

    I had the idea about 5 years ago, but you don't hear me complaining that some total stranger managed to implement the idea first.

  23. alan lovedog

    And I invented Flash....

    about 2 years before it appeared on the internet, I had the idea that if a website could generate it's own polygon animated graphics, you could have animated websites without the need to download large quantities of data - I got the idea upon seeing how quickly tekken loaded on my then new, fangled playstation. of course I did sod all about it but even so... give me my billions!

  24. Ash

    i invented the gerbil

    i remember when i was 3 thinking that what the world really needs is some form of global digital communication system. i began with crayons, and threw the pieces of paper at my parents. Sometimes i would miss and my parents would say "i'm sorry it didn't work out". Sometimes they would throw leaflets back at me.

    Also, i would draw pictures and pin them (or 'upload' them) on the fridge, or what i called, 'the web'.

    Since then, someone (and i suspect it was the US military) stole my ideas and created 'The Internet'.

    As soon as i have enough money i'm going to buy every ISP and then turn the Internet off until everyone knows it was me that invented it.

    i also invented the concept of a mouse, but my version, the 'gerbil', didn't really take off.

  25. Matthew Sinclair

    Waht happened to...

    The good ol days when people came up with new ways of doing things and new ideas.

    Now they say HEY THATS MY IDEA!

    Every time I hear that... I think they are:

    Greedy and brain dead....

    Ok.. a few cases are valid arguments.... but even then... too frequent this is the trend thats set for the industry.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sue'em all

    I guess the first guy having a homepage talking about his cats and his holidays should sue all those bloggers out there that talk about their uninteresting lifes in their sites.

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