How Accurate Is: The Social Network (Film, 2010) Part 1

A poster for The Social Network.
A poster for The Social Network.

Hello everyone! Today, I decided to do a post that will examine a very contemporary topic; the film The Social Network. This 2010 film, written by Aaron Sorkin, takes a dramatic look at the founding story of Facebook. Yes, this is much more recent than some of the other movies and television featured in recent posts, and it is therefore certainly difficult to decide how much credence to lend the different sides of the story; however, this post will mainly aim to clear up some major misconceptions created by the film’s portrayal of many central characters.

  • To begin, as in any movie, many characters were simply left out to facilitate the plot; for example, Adam D’Angelo, a friend of Zuckerberg’s and briefly Facebook’s CTO, was not present in the film.[1]
  • Similarly, the portrayal of Zuckerberg’s character as a social loner was somewhat inaccurate; he has been dating the same woman, Priscilla Chan, since 2005 and the two are now married.[2]
    • Facemash appears to have been mostly accurate, but there is nothing specifically mentioning him breaking up with a girlfriend; there was something about a girl included in his original blog, however. Furthermore, he created it in a week, not a night, and he was certainly not drunk that entire time.[3]
  • Even those who received favourable treatments by the film have rights to be annoyed. For example, instead of angrily moping as in the film, the real-life Winklevoss twins actually went out and founded their own company, ConnectU. This was the entity through which they eventually sued Zuckerberg, but the company was not particularly successful and has now been so thoroughly lost to history that it does merit so much as a mention in the film.[4]
  • Other, smaller, inaccuracies also proliferate. The most egregious example is the scene near the close of the film where Sean Parker is arrested after being caught with drugs (and underage interns) during the million-user party for Facebook; although the bones of the story are true (Parker was arrested after cocaine was found in a vacation home he was renting), most of the story was simply made up for effect.[5]

For more, continue past the link.

Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Zuckerberg.

There are several potential reasons for the numerous inaccuracies present in the film. The first is one that has made several appearances on this site (and will almost certainly do so again), which is that accuracy is, all too often, sacrificed for the sake of plot in films and other entertainment. The second is that the book on which the movie was based, The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, was written primarily using interviews with Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook and a central character in the film, who had every reason to be angry at Zuckerberg.[6] Along with the Winklevoss twins, Saverin was the plaintiff in one of the two lawsuits directed at Facebook that made up the core of the film, and has now been made a billionaire through his Facebook stock. His claims are given much credence in the movie, perhaps too much, while the other side receives little credit. (To be fair, the producer of The Social Network did apparently try to schedule an interview with Zuckerberg, an attempt in which he was rejected.)[7] This is not to say that the movie does everything wrong, however. To find out what it did right, check in next time. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a good day!

References:

1 Business Insider. “How Facebook Was Founded”. Last modified March 2010.

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-facebook-was-founded-2010-3?op=1

2 The New Yorker. “The Face of Facebook.” Last modified September 2010.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/20/the-face-of-facebook

3 The Harvard Crimson. “Hot or Not? Website Briefly Judges Looks.” Last modified November 2003.

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2003/11/4/hot-or-not-website-briefly-judges/?page=single

4 Business Insider. “How Facebook Was Founded”. Last modified March 2010.

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-facebook-was-founded-2010-3?op=1

5 Business Insider. “Facebook’s First President Sean Parker Left Company After A Scandal.” Last modified May 2010.

http://www.businessinsider.com/facebooks-first-president-was-fired-over-a-cocaine-arrest-2010-5

6 The New Yorker. “The Face of Facebook.” Last modified September 2010.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/20/the-face-of-facebook

7 The New Yorker. “The Face of Facebook.” Last modified September 2010.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/20/the-face-of-facebook

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