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Facebook began on a late night whim inspired by the "horrendiedous" [sic] photos of fellow Harvard students[1]. It may be assumed that the stated aim, to compare the photos of students to farm animals[1], was a joke in poor taste. The original website Mark Zuckerberg hosted on his computer, Facemash, used photographs scraped from the university servers without permission and offered users the chance to rate them against one another in terms of personal attractiveness in a manner similar to that of Hot or Not.[1][2] The company that was to become Facebook would benefit from large donations from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. This would be controversial since Thiel, who describes himself as a libertarian, had in the wake of the September 11th attacks made comments[3] outlining his contentious[4][5] view that security and privacy is a zero-sum game and pitching his company's credentials in selling data-mining serves to government intelligence services.[3] Facebook, one of the most popular websites in the world, has attracted negative publicity in recent years, including claims that it is engineered to exploit psychological weaknesses to promote addictive behaviours[6], debates surrounding censorship of content[7][8][9][10], and analysis of Facebook's role in recent elections in the UK[11] and the US[12][13][14]. Starting in late 2017, there has been much speculation[15][16][17] about whether Mark Zuckerberg might be considering a run for president.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A page on the history of Facebook on Wikipedia
  2. An article in student newspaper The Harvard Crimson
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Palantir section of a Wikipedia page on Peter Thiel, accessed on 9th January, 2018
  4. Kathleen Hall writes in the Law Society Gazette against the idea that security and privacy is a trade off
  5. NSA whistleblower, William Binney, follows a talk by former NSA chief executive, Thomas Drake, at the Logan CIJ Symposium in Berlin in 2016 by arguing that bulk collection has failed on its own stated terms
  6. Guardian weekend magazine technology special 'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia, accessed on 9th January
  7. Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men From Hate Speech But Not Black Children ProPublica, 28th June, 2017, accessed on 8th January, 2018
  8. Facebook censored me. Criticize your government and it might censor you too. James Bovard for USA Today, 27th October, 2017, accessed on 9th January, 2018
  9. Facebook Needs to Be More Transparent About Why It Censors Speech Matthew Ingram for Fortune, 22nd May, 2017, accessed 9th January, 2018
  10. When Facebook Censors Journalists Kalev Leetaru writing in Forbes, 17th June, 2017, accessed 9th January, 2018
  11. A piece by Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian "Who's supposed to regulate elections in the 21st century? Apparently no one", accessed on 9th January, 2017]
  12. A New York Times piece entitled We Asked Facebook 12 Questions About the Election, and Got 5 Answers, accessed 9th January, 2017
  13. Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone, New York Times, accessed 9th January, 2017
  14. The Failure of Facebook Democracy by Nathan Heller, November 18th, 2016, accessed 9th January, 2017
  15. If Mark Zuckerberg runs for president, will Facebook help him win? by Katherine Haenschen in the Guardian 9th September, 2017, accessed on 9th January, 2018
  16. More signs point to Mark Zuckerberg possibly running for president in 2020Shawn M. Carter writing for CNBC Money on 15th August, 2017, accessed 9th January, 2018
  17. A search for the hashtag #Zuckerberg2020 on Facebook competitor, Twitter