Zuckerberg said that he hoped the privacy options would help to restore his reputation following student outrage over facemash.com, a website he created in the fall semester.
Using without permission photos from House facebooks, Facemash juxtaposed the pictures of two random Harvard undergraduates and asked users to judge their physical attractiveness. The website drew the ire of students and administrators alike, and Zuckerberg shut it down within days of the initial launch.
In addition to the privacy options, Zuckerberg added security features to thefacebook.com that he said will ensure that only the owner of a particular Harvard e-mail account can upload information to the website.
When a person registers to join thefacebook.com, a program checks to make sure that the name of the prospective member matches up with the entered e-mail address. Next, a confirmation message is sent to the e-mail account, and the account is finally activated if and when the owner of the account clicks on an encrypted link back to thefacebook.com.
Zuckerberg said that he was also careful to avoid the potential copyright infringement charges that landed him before the Administrative Board after the creation of Facemash.
“Facemash was a joke, it was funny, but at its root it had its problems—not only the idea, but the implementation. It was distributing materials that were Harvard’s. I was very careful with [thefacebook.com] to make sure that people don’t upload copyrighted material,” he said.
Davis said that thefacebook.com is not necessarily in violation of any Harvard rules.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with a third party site on which students choose to create a personal network,” Davis said. “If there was a third party site on which students uploaded course syllabi or videos, that could potentially become a property issue with the University.”
Zuckerburg said thefacebook.com has no such capabilities and does not violate University rules.
While Zuckerberg promised that thefacebook.com would boast new features by the end of the week, he said that he did not create the website with the intention of generating revenue.
“I’m not going to sell anybody’s e-mail address,” he said. “At one point I thought about making the website so that you could upload a resume too, and for a fee companies could search for Harvard job applicants. But I don’t want to touch that. It would make everything more serious and less fun.”
—Staff writer Alan J. Tabak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.