Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who Founded Facebook? The Case of Aaron J. Greenspan

At the New York Times, John Markoff had a September 1, 2007, article titled:

Who Founded Facebook? A New Claim Emerges:
"Aaron J. Greenspan [a] Harvard classmate ... says he was actually the one who created the original college social networking system.... And he has the e-mail messages to show it.

As a Harvard student in 2003 ... Mr. Greenspan established a simple Web service that he called houseSYSTEM. It was used by several thousand Harvard students for a variety of online college-related tasks. Mr. Zuckerberg was briefly an early participant.

An e-mail message, circulated widely by Mr. Greenspan to Harvard students on Sept. 19, 2003, describes the newest feature of houseSYSTEM, as “the Face Book,” an online system for quickly locating other students. The date was four months before Mr. Zuckerberg started his own site, originally “” (Mr. Greenspan retained his college e-mail messages and provided The New York Times with copies of his communications with Mr. Zuckerberg.)
" in Facebook case study writes:
"It is also alleged that another system predated Facebook. Aaron J. Greenspan, a Harvard student in 2003 created a simple web service that he called houseSYSTEM. It was used by several thousand Harvard students for a variety of online college-related tasks — six months before Facebook started and eight months before ConnectU went online. Mark Zuckerberg was briefly an early participant. No suit has been filed by Greenspan, instead he has published a book about his experience."
Greenspan can be found online at where he has a link to his book Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era.

Greenspan posts at the Huffington Post: where his bio writes:
"Aaron invented The Facebook while attending Harvard College in September 2003 and graduated with an A.B. in Economics in 2004."
His most recent posting of October 5, 2009 at the Huntington Post is titled The Fallacy of Execution (and Sex), or Why Mark Zuckerberg Doesn't Answer Questions About Facebook's Origins and he writes as follows:
"I've been told time and again that the reason Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook succeeded over my own at Harvard is that I simply didn't "execute," while my classmate did. And so without casting any blame, I'd like to put everything that notion implies to rest. In his latest thirty-minute-long interview, Mark didn't mention anything about the fully-functional and heavily-marketed houseSYSTEM integrated student portal that was far more than a mere idea, the "Facebook" component that he joined along with his co-founders, the hours he spent visiting and re-visiting the site in January of 2004, or the Harvard College Student Entrepreneurship Council that created it, let alone the decades-long history of face books at educational institutions across the country. That doesn't mean that those products, organizations and events never happened, however. There's plenty of evidence indicating that they did."

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