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ConnectU Claims Facebook is a Rip-off

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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FACE OFF! Cameron (left), Tyler Winklevoss, Zuckerberg (inset)

Was one of the most successful social networking sites in history the fruit of a vicious dorm room jackmove? Now in court, the founders of ConnectU (the Prodigy of online college communities) claim that they hired a lowly geek Mark Zuckerberg to write code for their site, and that he instead stole their business plan and got unfathomably rich on a little site of his own called Facebook.

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A judge isn't convinced. Last week, a judge gave ConnectU two weeks to revise their complaints, which he called "a most evanescent of explanations." Apparently, in this contest, size matters. On July 10, Facebook hit the 30 million member milestone and continues growing. ConnectU claims 70,000 members, yet they are asking the judge to hand over the assets and control of Facebook. The pages of Facebook reveal over 70 groups committed to an anti-ConnectU acquisition, with appropriate names such as, "Don't let ConnectU shutdown Facebook! ... ConnectU, quit your bitchin'" and "F*** U ConnectU—Facebook Rules."

Curious about the rabid animosity toward the less popular social network, Radar created a ConnectU profile. The site is barren, slow, and controlled by a pair of twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and their fellow Pforzheimer House roommate. The founders have admittedly stopped actively working on the site since 2005, and ironically, two of the three have Facebook profiles in their names. At last visit to ConnectU, we were greeted by a blank page with a pathetic maintenance apology.

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