Menlo Park, CA - Yet another lawsuit has been filed against FaceBook owner Mark Zuckerberg. Recently retired Harvard professor Jonah Goldman filed papers in superior court alleging that he possesses a written document in which Zuckerberg promises him 90% of future business interests, in return for a passing grade in Goldman's Ethics 101 class.
"Yes, well, it's an interesting story for many, I suppose" droned the professor, when I visited him in Cambridge. "Let's see, it all started after the 'Face-mash fiasco', when young Zuckerberg was facing expulsion for hacking into the university network and stealing student pictures for his web site. A condition of his non-expulsion was successfully passing my course.
He was a poor student. He didn't seem able to grasp the the most rudimentary concept of ethics. So I was preparing to issue a failing grade, when he came to my office and pleaded for a second chance. He said he would do an extra-credit project--write a paper demonstrating that he knew how to give and not just take.
It was in that paper that he promised to give me 90% of any and all of his future business interests, if only I would issue him a passing grade, which I reluctantly did. I had forgotten all about it, until my wife recently rented the DVD 'The Social Network'. Luckily, I keep all of my paperwork in storage. It took a bit of digging, but I found it. My attorney says it's worth a pretty penny."
I asked Professor Goldman what else he remembered, and why he was reluctant to give Zuckerberg a passing grade. "Well, I did give him a passing mark, but after reading his paper, I asked him, what good was 90% of nothing? How could he make any money with a website where people just posted their pictures and profiles?
He said 'Someday government will use my site to keep track of citizens, and spy on anyone who doesn't conform or support the establishment! Businesses will use it to comb through posts, to find employees with negative attitudes, or find something to justify firing anyone they want to get rid of! Men will use it to stalk their ex-wives and girlfriends! Do you have any idea how valuable that could be?'
I reminded him that this proposal of his was for an ethics class. How could he be comfortable with such an Orwellian vision for the use of his work? He just giggled like a little girl, and said 'With the kind of money I'm talking about, I can buy a conscience!'
I should have failed him I suppose. But he just seemed like a naughty but harmless little boy, perhaps lacking parental guidance. So I gave him a D- with reservations. I hope to make things right with this lawsuit. Once I take control of the company, I'll ensure users privacy, stop underaged users, and implement controls and procedures to stop the other misuses as well."
Zuckerberg deleted me as a friend when I posted on his wall requesting a comment. He's reported to have assembled a small army of lawyers to fight professor Goldman's lawsuit, going so far as to retain both US Attorney General Eric Holder and even President Obama.
I asked the good professor if he believed he could succeed in the face of such formidable legal and political clout.
"Oh, I'm not worried" he smiled. "We have a saying in the ethics business--The Truth Will Set You Free!"