Facebook In Court
Facebook core is simple and basic. A lot of people have had similar ideas, and the early version of facebook (no more than a year ago) was something that anyone with medium level of php+mysql+html would have thought to themselves "I could do that and better in a few days!".
But thats not the merit. The difficult thing is turning that simple idea and design into something useful and into a profitable business. When I first heard of facebook i just thought it was one more of those pages i dont want to know about, but it somehow hooked. Looking at the connectu web page makes me wonder if they really have any user base. The page is simply ugly and difficult.
The difficulty of most businesses is not just having a good idea. It is knowing how to turn a good idea into a good business. Even if Zuckerberg really was influenced by the others, it was him who turned it into a success. Putting it in another way, if facebook would have never existed, connectU would not be the success facebook is now.