This is the story of how, in the summer of 2004, Mark Zuckerberg hacked into a Facebook rival called ConnectU, whose founders had accused him of stealing their idea to build Facebook. The details of this story were developed from a broader investigation of the origins of Facebook. The investigation included interviews with more than a dozen sources over two years, as well as what we believe to be relevant IMs and emails from the period.
During the summer of 2004, Mark Zuckerberg's new social network theFacebook.com was already wildly popular. After Mark launched it in February, the site dominated the conversation at Harvard all spring. It reached 250,000 users by the end of August and a million users that fall.
TheFacebook.com was so popular that one thing Mark probably never needed to worry about was competition from the other social network launched at Harvard in 2004, ConnectU, whose founders had accused him of stealing their idea.
ConnectU's founders -- Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra -- had launched the site that spring at 15 schools. But it never gained anywhere close to the critical mass of user adoption that Facebook did. Today, 400 million people visit Facebook each month while ConnectU exists only in the Internet archives.
Nevertheless, during 2004, Mark Zuckerberg still appeared to be obsessed with ConnectU. Specifically, he appears to have hacked into ConnectU's site and made changes to multiple user profiles, including Cameron Winklevoss's.
At one point, Mark appears to have exploited a flaw in ConnectU's account verification process to create a fake Cameron Winklevoss account with a fake Harvard.edu email address.
In this new, fake profile, he listed Cameron's height as 7'4", his hair color as "Ayran Blond," and his eye color as "Sky Blue." He listed Cameron's "language" as "WASP-y."