Launched in February 2004, Facebook is a social networking service founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Early investors include Microsoft and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka- shing, through his namesake charitable foundation. Facebook’s US$16 billion initial public offering in May 2012 generated huge investor interest although the shares subsequently slumped in price.
'Men without women' takes on unique Chinese characteristics
In 1927, American author Ernest Hemingway published in his Men without Women a series of short stories about men doing manly things because they don't want to - or can't - settle down.
Today, that work may have unexpected relevance on the mainland, where, thanks largely to the one-child policy, nearly 120 boys are born for every 100 girls. Mix in a widening wealth gap and a growing emphasis on material wealth and you get a gender gap of truly astounding proportions.
Take for instance the wife-hunting competition widely reported by the mainland media last week, in which 11 unwed tycoons drew applications from some 2,800 potential brides. That's nearly 255 would-be wives per bachelor.
These discerning tycoons have been culling the candidate pool by scrutinising everything from age and measurements to education and family pedigree. The richest of the bunch even offered 5 million yuan (HK$6.1 million) if organisers could find him a virgin.
'Our clients are looking for true love,' one organiser assured The Beijing News.
Contestants have had to undergo a battery of tests, including such questions as 'Do you mind if your husband cheats on you?' according to Yangcheng Evening News. One woman told the paper that the tests made even the civil-service exam look easy, widely thought to be the mainland's toughest.
Most mainland media outlets were sceptical about this kind of matchmaking competition.
'True love is tested through time,' said China Radio International Online. 'This kind of wife-hunting contest does not respect women and cannot find true love.'
Others drew contrasts with the surprise home wedding ceremony between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - now potentially the world's 29th-richest man - and his long-time Chinese-American girlfriend Priscilla Chan.
'Those billionaires should be ashamed when compared to Zuckerberg,' said the Qilu Evening News of Shandong . 'They should realise Zuckerberg is much wealthier than them.'
The online version of People's Daily took an even harsher tone, comparing the wife-hunting contest to a female slave market in ancient Rome. The highest bidder takes the best-looking girl home.
The Youth Times, based in Zhejiang , drew a historical comparison that hit closer to home, saying in an editorial on Tuesday that the contest was reminiscent of a time when 'ancient emperors were looking for the concubines'.
Still, some media outlets dared to defend the contest's billionaire bachelors. 'It's their civil right to find pretty girls this way,' said the Gaungdong-based Zhongshan Daily. 'The clients made a serious list of requirements for their future wife, which shows their respect to women. Who doesn't like pretty girls?' it mused. Whether the paper intended to deliver the message or not, the readers understood. If you want to marry rich, ladies, you had better look good.
But there may be bigger things at stake here, as pointed out by the government-run Jiangsu Online, which said the contest revealed the spiritual crisis afflicting the nation after decades of economic growth.
'Our society is sick for its mad money worship,' it said. 'These women contestants are the products of the covetous and the inordinately materialistic.'
Furthermore, it noted that as many as 24 million male mainlanders could be perpetual bachelors by 2020, citing research released two years ago by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Most of them are poor, unable to attract one potential bride, let alone 2,800.
Imagine an army of 24 million unmarried young males, enough to fill three entire cities the size of Hong Kong. That might be a scary prospect to anyone concerned about domestic stability.
Which brings us back to Hemingway's Men without Women. In his famous understated style, he illustrates the lives of gangsters, soldiers and killers. Most of the stories are about violence.
Chinese leaders have been talking a lot about the widening gap between rich and poor, considered a potential threat to social stability. Now that problem has a new dimension: tens of millions of poor leftover men looking to vent some frustration. Maybe the leadership could encourage some billionaires to share their superfluous suitors with the rest of the country.