Wednesday, April 17, 2024

On Facebook, Founders and Fascists

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Reporter’s Notebook: First, the good news.

eMarketer reports that for the first time, online advertising will surpass radio advertising spending in the U.S.

Of course, that’s only good news if you’re not in the radio business. But who’s dumb enough to get into the radio business these days?

One more Facebook founder?

Add another alleged Facebook founder to the list. The New York Times has Harvard alumnus Aaron J. Greenspan saying he created a service for students called houseSYSTEM with a feature called “the Face Book” in 2003, six months before Facebook CEO and official founder Mark Zuckerburg launched

According to Greenspan, some of Facebook’s features were available on houseSYSTEM first, including birthday reminders, an event calendar, RSVPs, a user’s link to someone, photo albums and course listings.

Of course it’s true what a developer friend of mine said after seeing the Times story posted to my Facebook profile.

Whoever this “real” creator is, he said, “he certainly didn’t architect the excellent implementation that is Facebook today,” Florida-based Web developer Justin Keyes wrote.

Still, after hearing about Greenspan’s story and the comical ConnectU case, you’ve got to wonder if Zuck’s flip-flop-wearing charm is starting to fade. He was clearly all-business back in his Harvard dorm room.

More on Facebook, which is now banned in Iran

Reports have it that Facebook — whether it’s Mark Zuckerburg’s creation or not –has been banned by some ISPs in Iran. The American Islamic Congress reports that Facebook joins MySpace, YouTube, and popular blogging sites like PersianBlog as the Iranian government allegedly fears virtual organizing that could help opposition movements.

Of course, Facebook also has censorship issues in free societies, too. In July, the BBC reported that British advertisers First Direct Bank, Vodafone, Virgin Media, the U.K.’s Automobile Association, Halifax Bank, and Prudential protested after their ads were placed next to the facist British National Party’s (BNP) Facebook group page. They’re the charming folks who advocated banning all Muslims from British airspace.

Speaking of fascism …

Maybe I’m naive, but I’m surprised a bigger deal hasn’t been made about how the Chinese military supposedly hacked into the Pentagon’s network in June.

The Financial Times reports that the Pentagon has traced a June attack on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s computer back to the the Peoples’ Liberation Army. Apparently, the same thing happened to Germany earlier this year.

When German chancellor Angela Merkel confronted her Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, the Chinese foreign ministry said the government opposed and forbade “any criminal acts undermining computer systems, including hacking.”

Oh, OK. I feel much better now.

This article was first published on

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