Facebook's Zuckerberg gets a taste of his own medicine

The Facebook founder has taken out an injunction after a man allegedly stalked him using - you guessed it - Facebook. Time to rethink his attitudes to privacy?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 29 Mar 2011
Poor Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook founder is having something of a Dr Frankenstein moment, after he took out an injunction against a man who was apparently stalking him using his own creation. A man called Pradeep Manukonda allegedly used the social network to intimidate him, his sister Randi and his girlfriend Priscilla Chan, sending threatening messages (sinister as much for their grammar as for their content) asking for money, and saying he was ‘ready to die’ for Zuckerberg. Apparently, Manukonda also turned up at several of Facebook’s Palo Alto offices asking for money, and even had flowers sent to Zuckerberg’s home address. Creepy.

It’s not the first time Zuckerberg has been the victim of stalking. Last year, technology website Gawker sent a paparazzo to trail the world’s 212th-richest man for a weekend as a protest against Facebook’s perceived lax attitude to users’ privacy. The photographer’s discoveries were pretty mundane: Zuckerberg attended Chinese lessons, went out one evening, and (most shockingly) wore the same faded grey t-shirt for several days in a row. Who'd have thunk it?

Facebook has been fiercely criticised for a catalogue of changes it’s made to its privacy settings since its inception (most notably, by automatically making all profiles public), to which Zuckerberg has mainly responded with indifference. The company’s attitude was nicely encapsulated by New York Times writer Nick Bilton, who tweeted last year that when asked how Zuckerberg feels about privacy, an anonymous employee had merely responded with: ‘he doesn’t believe in it’.

However, now he's experienced a frightening invasion of privacy at close quarters, perhaps he'll be more sympathetic to calls to start reining in his creation. Or he could just ramp up his privacy settings?

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