People in the News: Mark Zuckerberg | Level 8 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

Young newscasters Ben and Olivia introduce well-known people from around the world. These “people in the news” have accomplished extraordinary things in science, sports, music, business, politics, and more!


BEN: Hello, Little Fox Readers, and welcome back to People in the News. This week Olivia will be telling us about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook. He’s also one of the world’s youngest billionaires. Mark was just a college student when he started the social networking site with a group of friends. How long ago was that, Olivia?

OLIVIA: That was back in 2004, Ben. Since then Facebook has grown at a truly amazing rate!
Mark was born on May 14, 1984, and grew up in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a suburb of New York City. His mother was a psychiatrist, who stopped practicing to care for the family. His father was a dentist.
Mark, or "Zuck," as many friends still call him, was interested in computers from an early age. He turned his friends’ artwork into computer games. His parents realized he had a gift for coding and hired a tutor to work with him once a week. He was soon taking an advanced computer class at a local college.
At the age of 12, Mark solved a problem in his father’s dental office, which was connected to the family's house. When a patient arrived, Dr. Zuckerberg’s receptionist called out to him. But the dentist wanted a better—and quieter—system. So Mark developed software that enabled all the computers in the house and office to communicate with each other. The receptionist could then use the computer to announce a patient’s arrival.
Mark and his three sisters became frequent users of the network, which Mark called ZuckNet. Mark once used it to play a trick on one of his sisters. He made a message pop up on her computer that said a virus was going to cause the computer to explode in thirty seconds. When the computer began counting down the seconds, Mark's sister ran upstairs to yell at him!
Mark started at the local high school, but he graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, a prestigious boarding school.

BEN: Did he spend all his time sitting at a computer?

OLIVIA: No, he was captain of the fencing team, and in the classroom he especially enjoyed studying classics. That’s the study of ancient Greek and Latin. But he was still busy programming computers. He and a friend created the Synapse Media Player, a music player that recommended new music based on what someone had previously listened to. When Mark graduated from high school, two big companies—AOL and Microsoft—wanted to buy Synapse. Each offered Mark a million dollars and a job. But he turned them down!
Instead he decided to attend Harvard University to study computer science and psychology. At Harvard he was known as a programming whiz, talented at creating software that was easy and fun to use. During his sophomore year, he designed a program called CourseMatch, which helped students choose classes based on who else was taking them. He also hacked into the university’s computer system to obtain student photos for a new website he called Facemash. He posted the photos two at a time and then asked people to vote on which student was more attractive. The university quickly shut that site down!
Meanwhile three other students had an idea for a social networking site called ConnectU. They turned to Mark for programming help, and he did some work for them. But before the site got off the ground, Mark and some friends launched their own site: Facebook.
As most people probably know by now, the idea of "friends" is key to the site. Users choose friends, who can see the words and pictures they’ve posted on their Facebook pages. Friends can also write their own comments and post pictures to a user’s page.
At Harvard, Facebook's popularity grew quickly.

BEN: Were the ConnectU founders upset with Mark?
. . .

[Little Fox Introduction]

Little Fox is an award-winning library of leveled stories and songs. We create animated stories and songs to help kids to learn English easily as a second language (ESL). Visit our website, www.littlefox.com, to learn more about our unique curriculum and our thousands of digital resources.


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