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The Social Network

May 1st, 2012 · No Comments

Lauren, Becca, Sam, Nick
2 May 2012
The Social Network (2010)
Director David Fincher

Behind the Beginning of Social Networking

Based loosely on the 2009 novel The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, The Social Network portrays the triumphs and tribulations of the founding of social networking website “Facebook”. The film is “intercut with scenes from depositions taken in lawsuits” (Wikipedia) against Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. One lawsuit was filed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra, claiming the Zuckerberg stole their idea. The second lawsuit was filed by Zuckerberg’s friend Eduardo Saverin, claiming “his shares of Facebook were diluted when the company was incorporated” (Wikipedia). The film received eight Academy Award nominations, winning three, and won several Golden Globe Awards.

While there are truthful aspects of the film, it can hardly be considered a completely accurate portrayal of the events that actually took place. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin stated that “the movie was clearly intended to be entertainment and not a fact-based documentary” (Wikipedia). First of all, the book upon which the film was based, The Accidental Billionaires, was not completely factual. Mark Zuckerberg, one of the most (if not the most) important figures in the development of the site, declined to take part in the writing of the book. Author Ben Mezrich’s main source of information was Eduardo Saverin, but once lawsuits between Saverin and Zuckerberg were settled, Saverin discontinued his involvement with the book, thus no valid conclusion could be made in the story.

David Kirkpatrick, author of the non-fiction book The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World, studied the real story of the company’s creation. Kirkpatrick “repeatedly interviewed Facebook founder Zuckerberg, his co-founders, and his friends, along with scores of Facebook executives” (Kirkpatrick) to obtain facts about Facebook. He points out inconsistencies with the film, The Social Network, and the real story. The involvement in Facebook of some of the characters in the film were misrepresented. The character of Dustin Moskovitz is “almost completely omits his critical role in building and growing [Facebook]”, which was Kirkpatrick describes as more important than Saverin’s (Kirkpatrick). However, the lawsuit made for a more dramatic film, so Saverin’s character received more attention. Despite some of its inaccuracies, Zuckerberg “got a laugh out of how accurately his wardrobe was represented” (Nemiroff). When watching a film that is based on real events, it is important to keep The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin’s words in mind– “Art isn’t about what happened, and the properties of people and the properties of ‘characters’ are two completely different things” (Sorkin).

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg noted that the only thing that the film got right in their portrayal of him was the clothing.  The film illustrated that Zuckerberg founded Facebook in an attempt to attract more girls and to get into an Ivy League school.  For instance, in the film, Zuckerberg dumps a girl, Erica Albright.  Erica Albright was simply a character in the movie and not based on a real person.  In reality, Zuckerberg had a girlfriend before he launched Facebook.  Zukerberg noted in an article by The Guardian,

“The whole framing of the movie is I’m with this girl (who doesn’t exist in real life) … who dumps me … which has happened in real life, a lot,” he said to laughter from the audience. “And basically the framing is that the whole reason for making Facebook is because I wanted to get girls, or wanted to get into clubs. They [the film’s creators] just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things”(Child 20 October 2010).

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Zuckerberg in 2004.  They established a site called Connect U and claimed that Zuckerberg stole their ideas.  Eventually, the Winklevoss brothers dropped the suit and were satisfied, for a short time, with a $65 million settlement.   However, they decided to appeal the ruling because they claimed that the settlement was based on an inaccurate valuation of the company.  At the time, Facebook was valued at $100 billion.  An appeals court sided with Facebook and struck down the Winklevoss’ appeal.  In 2010, they noted that they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (Musil 2011).

Although this movie was not based entirely on the book or the creation of Facebook, it gives the audience insight into the workings of Facebook and how it (loosely) came into existence.  Media companies like these somehow persuade the majority of people to join these networks, including people in developing countries.  Watching something like this makes you realize what your participation and engagement in social networking does for advertising companies; we are simply fueling the fire for these big corporations to keep growing and to keep making billions of dollars.  It is important to keep this in mind when we register and become members of these sites.



Important Quotes

  1. Sean Parker: “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!” — This is a very important quote, because we have entered this world.  This generation and ones to come are and will be dependent on the internet.
  2. Sean Parker: He’s wired in. Eduardo Saverin: [picks up marks computer and smashes it on the ground] What about now? Are you wired in now?” — this quote is essential to understanding our society, because once and awhile, everyone should disconnect from their technologies and participate in real, face-to-face communication so they may understand the world around them.
  3. Mark-  People want to go online and check out their friends, so why not build a website that offers that? Friends, pictures, profiles, whatever you can visit, browse around, maybe it’s someone you just met at a party. Eduardo, I’m not talking about a dating site, I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.
  4. Marylin Delpy: What are you doing? Mark Zuckerberg: Checking in to see how it’s going in Bosnia. Marylin Delpy: Bosnia. They don’t have roads, but they have Facebook.” — again, this is an incredibly vital quote in the film, because it tells the audience how vast and globalized Facebook has become.  Even people who live in places that are still developing know of, and maybe even use, this social network.
  5. Marylin Delpy: The site got twenty-two hundred hits within two hours? Mark Zuckerberg: Thousand. Marylin Delpy: I’m sorry? Mark Zuckerberg: Twenty-two *thousand*. Marylin Delpy: [to herself] Wow. — Sites like these go viral so quickly.  In the film, it was said that this would have been more hits to a network than the Super Bowl would get during the halftime show.

Discussion Questions

  1. After seeing this film, do you think people’s opinions about Facebook and other social networking sites changed? Why is it that people Facebook?
  2. Is it possible that this movie reflects all of us?  We are constantly tapped into some sort of gadget feeding us information and framing our way of thinking.  Is it possible that this will change? Or do you think our generations will only become more dependent on the internet and “wiring in?”
  3. What does this movie say about the advancement of technology in our day-in-age?  Do you think we’re using the internet and these social networks for good? Do you think the falling out between friends and the sacrifices Mark, Eduardo and others made (of course loosely based on real events)  were, in the end, beneficial to society?


“The Accidental Billionaires.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 30 Apr.

2012. <>.

Child, Ben. “Mark Zuckerberg Rejects His Portrayal in the Social Network.” The Guardian. 20             October 2010. network.

Kirkpatrick, David. “What’s True in the Facebook Movie.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily

Beast, 30 Sept. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.


“Mark Zuckerberg.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Apr. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.


Miller, Jenni. “Aaron Sorkin Defends ‘Social Network’ Misogyny: “I Didn’t Invent the “F–k Truck”””

The Moviefone Blog. 12 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>.

Musil, Steven. “Winklevoss Twins Drop Facebook Lawsuit.”  CNET News.  22 June, 2011.       lawsuit/

Nemiroff, Perri. “Mark Zuckerberg on What ‘The Social Network’ Got Right and Wrong (VIDEO).”

The Moviefone Blog. 13 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.


“The Social Network.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Apr. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.



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