The Not So Accurate History of Facebook

I guess you can't make an excellent movie without distorting the facts.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching David Fincher’s newest film, The Social Network. By now everyone knows this movie is about the origins of Facebook. Apart from reality, the movie itself is great. It’s funny, it’s dark and it’s an insightful look at contemporary culture. However, as a realist, I’m troubled by the fact that it’s not entirely accurate. Mark Zuckerberg is easy to pick on. His college emails and IMs are all public record. Although my guess is that if you had everyone’s correspondence in their early twenties they wouldn’t come off so well either.

The weakest part of the movie are the Winklevoss brothers. The script is based partly on their weak argument that Zuckerberg stole their idea. Facebook isn’t based on an original idea. MySpace and other social networking sites existed long before Facebook. What made Facebook what it is today is the interface and the fact that it’s cooler than MySpace.

With the talent involved in this project it’s a shame there’s not a more accurate take on Zuckerberg. As much as I like the film I can’t beat up on the morons making the Nadagate movie and then turn around and praise Fincher and company. At least The Social Network isn’t a political film. It’s more about the last ten years of our narcissistic history. Technology has changed our lives. If there’s anything the movie represents, it’s the angry and anonymous Internet trolls.

Zuckerberg’s character is motivated by revenge and anger: first by his ex-girlfriend and by the elite clubs of Harvard. In the movie he used technology to get back at both groups. Before he knows it Facebook is bigger than anyone could have ever realized. The story rolls on very quickly, cutting back and forth between the history of Facebook and the depositions that came later.

I would be remiss to point out that there is a lot of truth in this movie. Zuckerburg lost some friends along the way, but haven’t we all lost some friends along the way? The Social Network is a great movie. Mark Zuckerberg is lampooned, but people should remember he created one of the greatest websites ever and he’s not nearly as mean or lonely as the film suggests.

2 responses to “The Not So Accurate History of Facebook

  1. Pingback: 2010 Person of the Year·

  2. The thing is, I think myspace is way more cool and user friendly. Facebook pages are boring while myspace you can customize and others beside myself are having a hard time figuring out how to navigate with postings, pics etc. I figured myspace out easily but have had to ask several times for help with facebook and honestly don’t even use it very often because it is a pain. Thanks for the insight on the reality of social networks that came before facebook though as I was wondering why such a big deal was even made over it in the firstplace.

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