Facebook is suing Mark Zuckerberg. No, I'm not talking about Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. I'm talking about Rotem Guez, an Israeli entrepreneur who reportedly changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook hit him with a lawsuit. "If you want to sue me, you're going to have to sue Mark Zuckerberg," Guez reportedly told Facebook. Talk about a publicity stunt.
Guez is currently in a legal dispute with Facebook. As you can see in the video above (via HolesNet), which looks like it was filmed by Guez himself, the man has legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg. It appears his main goal is to see if Facebook will continue to threaten and sue Mark Zuckerberg in spite of the publicity. He thinks he stands more of a chance as a Zuckerberg than a Guez.
The name change is only a recent episode as part of a much bigger saga. It all started when Guez launched Like Store, which sells advertisers Likes for their Pages. Like Store promises to give companies a boost in traffic by offering Facebook users free content only if the Like a given company's Page. Since this is in violation of Facebook's terms of service (TOS, or Statement of Rights and Responsibilities), the social networking giant wants to shut it down. Guez has acknowledged that the Like Store violates Facebook's TOS but he claims many US companies offer similar services.
On January 29, 2011, Guez sued Facebook. The lawsuit was actually filed against Nana10 MASA, Facebook's local affiliate in Israel. He said Facebook was unwilling to return his Facebook profile for no "apparent, legitimate reason." Facebook had kicked him off the service for selling Likes and creating fake accounts.
On September 1, 2011, Facebook's law firm Perkins Coie responded with a cease and desist statement, claiming that Guez and his Like Store violated Facebook's TOS by selling Likes to advertisers. Facebook disabled his profiles and Pages, revoked his license to use the site, demanded that Guez close his company and never access Facebook's services again. It appears Guez never responded to Facebook, but he did do something in response.
On December 7, 2011, Guez went to the Ministry of Home Affairs to change his name in his passport and on his identification to Mark Zuckerberg. Someone (it's not clear if it's Guez or someone else) then launched a Facebook Page, which at the time of writing has over 3,000 Likes and the following description:
This is the true story of Israeli entrepreneur Mr. Rotem Guez, Co-Founder of 'Like Store', an international social marketing company, who got a threat of a lawsuit from facebook and changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg.
On December 14, 2011, just one week after Guez changed his name, Facebook again threatened him with a lawsuit. Guez had apparently created a Facebook profile with the name Mark Zuckerberg, but Facebook disabled that account as well.
In the first letter, Perkins-Coie requested that Guez comply with its demands by September 5, 2011. In the second letter, the law firm extended the deadline to December 19, 2011. In both cases, the letters demanded of Geuz to "confirm that you, your agents, your employees, your affiliates, and/or anyone acting on your behalf (collectively, You or Your)":
- Have stopped and will not in the future access Facebook's site, services, platform, or network for any reason whatsoever.
- Have stopped and will refrain from developing, promoting, selling, offering, and/or using websites or applications, including but not limited to www.like-store.info and i-share.co.il, that sell "Likes," incentive Facebook users to "like" any page or website or to use Facebook social channels.
- Have stopped and will not in the future mislead Facebook users; and
- Have removed references to Facebook from any websites or other promotional material that You control, including but not limited to www.like-store.info and i-share.co.il.
There are other people in the world named Mark Zuckerberg, of course, but Guez appears to be the first who wasn't born with the name. It's almost ironic that Facebook has such a strict real name policy. There have been various similar name stories regarding Facebook (see links below), but I have to say, this one takes the cake.
Update: "Protecting the people who use Facebook is a top priority and we will take action against those who violate our terms," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
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