When I got hold of him early Wednesday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg said it would be best if we conducted our interview over email—not the phone. “I prefer mail because my English is not so good,” he said. “But if you can wait one hour, I’ll get home and answer your questions in a chat with my British wife.”
What!? Well, you know what they say. If you can’t beat ‘em…become ‘em.
That’s the questionable strategy one Israeli entrepreneur is embracing as he struggles to gain leverage over Facebook’s ambitious legal team. Rotem Guez, 32, legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month after his business received two cease-and-desist letters from the social networking giant for violating its Terms of Service. Guez, er, Zuckerberg, was caught selling “likes” to advertisers that paid his company money. To Facebook, that’s like filling a baseball stadium with empty jerseys. And the company wanted him to stop.
Guez, naturally, didn’t. And instead of shutting down the operation, he changed his name to match that of the company’s co-founder. His logic: Facebook wouldn’t really sue Mark Zuckerberg, would it?
So far, it’s unclear if the strategy will pay off.
Facebook’s lawyers in Washington, D.C., told ABC News that the firm will take “whatever measures it believes are necessary to enforce [Facebook’s] rights,” while a spokesman for the company said it will “take action against those who violate our terms.”
We asked Guez, who’s tracking his trials and tribulations as Fake Zuck at MarkZuckerbergOfficial.com, if he thinks Facebook will really sue and what life is like living with the name of the world’s most famous Internet billionaire.
Why did you change your name?
I changed it because of a lawsuit filed against me for violating Facebook’s terms of service. I thought it would be funny and ironic if Facebook were to sue Mark Zuckerberg.
“Someone opened a false profile under the name of Rotem Guez. If I were paranoid, I’d guess it was Mark.”
Do you think Facebook will actually (and successfully) sue you?
I don’t really think they have a case. I’m not breaking any laws—not in California and not in Israel. I might be breaching an agreement. You must understand, I don’t fool anyone into “liking” my client’s pages. They willingly press “like” to be exposed to the content that interests them. They don’t need to pay me with money, or via text message, and they don’t receive any spam.
Is your name, as it appears on your identification cards and elsewhere, really, officially, Mark Zuckerberg?
Yes, for the next seven years. After that, who knows?
How has the reaction from Facebook been?
They erased my profile.
And what about Mark? Have you heard from him?
No, but someone opened a false profile under the name of Rotem Guez. If I were paranoid, I’d guess it was Mark.
Do you think it’s misleading, as the name clerk said, to take his name? (When Guez went to apply for the Zuckerberg name, an employee at the Interior Ministry in Israel reportedly told him, “It’s problematic…it’s like misleading the public.” Guez’s response: “Why? Is he God?”)
No. No one really thinks I’m the original Mark Zuckerberg. I’m not posing as such.
Are you ever mistaken for the real Mark Zuckerberg when handing over a credit card at the grocery store, or an ID card at the bar?
Not yet, I haven’t tried it out too much.
Have you ever gotten any perks for being named Mark Zuckerberg?
In the community I hang around in, no one really likes Mark Zuckerberg because he uses our databases without letting us know, while selling to the highest bidder.
How do people react when you say you’re Mark Zuckerberg?
They laugh and congratulate me for the nerve.
Will you name your kids Zuckerberg?
Do you “like” the real Mark Zuckerberg?
I certainly can value a man who invented Facebook, which if it had a physical existence would be the third biggest country in the world. He is the biggest “shepherd” online.
Do you look at all like Mark?
I’m more handsome and tan.
Are you just trolling?
From what I hear, I’m 2011’s biggest troll.
*Note: As Rotem Guez’s wife wasn’t available to translate his responses in the end, they were lightly edited for grammar.