Facebook users the world over are acknowledging the irony of Mark Zuckerberg having to file a restraining order against an obsessed fan who stalked him on his own social networking site.
But the irony runs especially deep in this instance because the 26-year-old Facebook founder isn't just fearing for his own safety; he's also afraid for the safety of people close to him -- namely, his girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, and his sister, Randi Zuckerberg.
Given that many have accused Zuckerberg of being cavalier about the privacy debate on the Internet, it will be interesting to see whether this threat will have any effect on his tendency to downplay people's concerns about their personal information being given away online.
Obviously, Zuckerberg is no stranger to privacy breeches. Gawker has more than once admitted to "stalking" the billionaire in the past year -- taking photos of him last summer with Chan and his family on vacation, and then earlier this year, taking pics of his house in Palo Alto, California. Also last month, his Facebook fan page was hacked, with the hacker posting a message seemingly from Zuckerberg’s account.
But this latest situation is particularly scary because the stalker, Pradeep Manukonda, seems to have more sinister intentions: He's been bombarding Zuckerberg with flowers, a handwritten note, and threatening online messages; visited the Facebook office to ask for money for his family; and even went to Zuckerberg's home, which he shares with Chan. Here's one of his more creepier messages:
I owe my entire life at your service. Please help me, then I am ready to die for you. Please understand my pain.
Luckily, Zuckerberg was able to access the legal system in his quest for more privacy: A judge has ordered Manukonda to stay at least 300 yards away from Zuckerberg, his girlfriend, and his sister pending a hearing later this month.
But will Zuckerberg gain new respect for privacy concerns after this real-world threat?
Image via deneyterrio/Flickr