Facebook may finally be nearing the end of a pestering lawsuit lodged against it by Paul Ceglia, a New York man who claims to be owed a 50 percent stake in the social network. For the first time, Facebook has released the email exchanges in 2004 between CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Ceglia, which were retrieved from the Harvard University server. These emails reveal a very different picture from the one Ceglia has tried to paint when he produced apparently fraudulent copies of alleged emails between him and Zuckerberg.
The lawsuit was filed by Ceglia in 2010, alleging that he had invested $1,000 in Facebook for what he originally claimed to be a 84 percent share. He later amended that to 50 percent but refused to submit the email evidence. After several delays, Ceglia managed to produce only copies of the emails in Microsoft Word format, explaining that he had a habit of saving them in this manner because his email software at the time automatically deleted old emails.
The emails being in Word format already appeared suspicious, but forensic experts also found Ceglia’s botched up his attempt to reset the clock on his computer to make the documents appear as if they were created in 2003 and 2004. There were several inconsistencies where the email timelines didn’t match up.
Zuckerberg did perform contract work for Ceglia on his now defunct website StreetFax. Ceglia claims that Zuckerberg would always be late on deadlines and that in exchange for the delays Ceglia would receive more ownership in “The Face Book” project that Zuckerberg was also working on at the time. Ceglia even produced an alleged contract.
Facebook’s camp has vehemently denied this and in the emails released from the Harvard servers it actually appears that Zuckerberg was angry with Ceglia for only paying him $9,000 of the $19,500 of agreed upon work for StreetFax. Zuckerberg clearly ended his working arrangement for Ceglia in an email dated a week before he launched Facebook. None of the email conversations produced by Ceglia to support his claim of Facebook ownership could be found in the retrieved emails. Facebook is calling the entire lawsuit an obvious fraud and has filed to have the case dismissed.