Will Facebook be forced to close?

Three-year lawsuit comes to a head next week

Social networking emporium Facebook could be forced to close next week if a key court judgement goes against it. The case in question is between the key founder of Facebook and a rival site ConnectU .

Pocket-Lint.co.uk reports that a decision is due in the federal courts on Wednesday. The case concerns whether Mark Zuckerberg - one of Facebook's founders - copied code from fellow students at top US university Harvard.

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The claimants say the code to begin Facebook was stolen by Zuckerberg when he was working for them. Facebook subsequently launched in 2003. But that's the abridged version. In reality, the legal spat has been a complex three-year battle. In late 2005, the Harvard student newspaper, The Crimson , even became embroiled in the suit. ConnectU co-founder Tyler Winklevoss ordered a subpoena which asked the newspaper to hand over all its correspondence with Zuckerberg.

ConnectU's creators, Divya Narendra, Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss, found out about Facebook when they read about it in The Crimson.

In a 2004 interview with American University website The Eagle, Winklevoss said: "People have to see that he did something wrong. More will come to light with the lawsuit. It's certainly not a stretch to come to a conclusion based on the facts."

Despite a counter-claim citing 'unfair business practices' from Facebook, ConnectU has asked the court to shut down the social networking site - which according to recent comScore figures has more than 3.5 million UK users.

But we're nothing compared to the US. There, Facebook has doubled its US user-base to 26.6 million in just 12 months. In the last three months alone, the number of visitors has gone up by a staggering 10 million. That's over 100,000 new American visitors going to Facebook every day.

In additional Facebook news this morning, the social networking site has bought startup Parakey . It's run by the creators of Firefox, Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt and is described as a "web operating system." And, although it hasn't yet launched, it's supposed to bring together and share content such as digital images or documents. Ross and Hewitt will stay to help with the development of Facebook.

Parakey's site says "Computers are frustrating. Creating documents, finding files, sharing information - why do everyday things still seem so tedious and counterintuitive?"