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What Happens If People Believe the Facebook Movie?

They say history is written by the victors, but the reality is that Hollywood prefers a sexy story. The upcoming movie, “The Social Network,” is based on the semi-fictionalized accounts of those jilted during the founding of Facebook. Starring Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield (who’s about to be the next Spider-Man), written by Andrew SorkinAaron Sorkin, directed by David Fincher, produced by Kevin Spacey, scored by Trent Reznor, and about a massive cultural phenomenon, there’s a good chance people are actually going to pay attention to this movie.

The Social Network,” due in theaters October 1, was inspired by “The Accidental Billionaires,” an unauthorized, dramatized account billed as a non-fiction work by Ben Mezrich, who popularized the (similarly embellished) story of MIT students taking over Vegas in “Bringing Down the House.” Mezrich’s book is told from the perspective of three early influences on Facebook who were screwed out of their roles in the company by founder CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Tyler Winklevoss (who, along with his brother, informally hired Zuckerberg to build a similar site, which Zuckerberg bailed on while creating and launched what was then called thefacebook; they sued and received $65 million), Eduardo Saverin (Zuckerberg’s Harvard friend who financed the early days of the company and was diluted out of his stake after it raised outside funding) and Sean Parker (who was Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley role model, but was kicked out of the company after getting busted at a party where there were drugs and an underage Facebook employee).

Because Mezrich didn’t even talk to the most important character in his book, Zuckerberg, the details on many events are incredibly sketchy. (Not that Mezrich didn’t sketch them out himself, in almost comically dramatized scenes: “Maybe Mark took a deep swig of the beer, let the bitter taste bite at the back of his throat, as he tapped his fingers against the laptop keyboard, gently summoning the thing awake.”)

If you read Mezrich’s book proposal, which was passed around online in 2008, you get all of the sex, drugs and rock and roll that’s spread out across those 250 pages — pitched with even more exaggeration than in the actual text, to my reading. In fact, Mezrich’s proposal was so appealing, much of the movie was apparently based on it alone.

Asa Mathat | All Things Digital

Zuckerberg is no angel, but the book is not fact either. A Hollywood version of it is going to be even further from the truth. And that’s more or less fine when we’re talking about some dead president or famous composer, but these Facebook events happened only five years ago. Now the social network is a highly present, relevant and still-evolving part of many people’s lives. Mark Zuckerberg is already pretty well antagonized in the public eye for his positions on privacy, his success at a young age and his awkwardness. I wonder what happens if the leading perception of him is based on trumped-up anecdotes about immature antics, creating a site to get laid and ruthlessly casting aside his best friends.

Though the book quits its story when Saverin is kicked out of the company, the marketing for the movie is more about the present day. The advertised website URL is (an expected milestone that Facebook itself hasn’t announced publicly), and the tagline is “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Meanwhile, Reznor endorsed “The Social Network” on his website on Thursday as “dark” and “really f***ing good.”

Facebook, to date, has made minimal comments about the book and movie. It’s clear the company doesn’t know what to make of it — and that could come back to haunt them. The company declined to say whether it has figured out a PR strategy, should the movie set off a backlash. (Though of course, many current and former Facebook employees are intrigued to see themselves and their coworkers portrayed.) Facebook’s Elliot Schrage provided us with the following statement:

The Social Network is a big-budget Hollywood movie based on a pretty poor book. We’ve been given to understand that, not unlike the book, the characters are caricatures and the stories are exaggerations of things that didn’t quite happen the way the writers would like. But this is a movie, not a documentary and we hope to be entertained.

Though the Mezrich book debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times Non-fiction Bestseller List, its story of excess and betrayal has not been the leading narrative about Facebook. Much more interesting has been the site’s quick and continuing growth, its problems with privacy and the ways people use it. Not exactly drama befitting a Hollywood blockbuster. But when you start seeing bus posters and TV commercials with the face of a certain former boy-band frontman (Timberlake plays the similarly curly haired Parker)… well, people may actually watch this movie. And Mark Zuckerberg is going to be a household name in an entirely different way than before.

Please see the disclosure in my bio about Facebook.

21 Responses to “What Happens If People Believe the Facebook Movie?”

  1. Watched the movie “the social network” and i must say its a good movie. The thing i liked about this movie is that they have kept the facts intact. But i do wonder how the facebook team is going to take it especially Mark Zukerberg because it shows him in poor light.

  2. newbedave

    It all started when I was logged in to the Harvard website, where I was listening in to the conversations of the Harvard students. One of these students was Mark Zuckerberg who was talking about Face Smash and he had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time, so I struck up a conversation with this Mark Zuckerberg. He was talking about creating a dating site. I thought this was a bit odd – a pie in the sky idea since he had just broken up with his girlfriend and he was slagging her off – calling her a bitch and a whore.
    dave talked to Mark about the idea, and suggested he call it Face Mash. He was intrigued with my suggestion and thought it was a good idea. Mark wanted to call it Face Smash, because he wanted to smash his ex in the face. I convinced him that Face Mash was a good idea and he agreed, but one week later he changed his mind and wanted to call it Face Smash. When I queried him about this he replied ‘f…. off you c…- I’m calling it Face Smash’. Two weeks after this conversation he came up with the name Mashable and when I asked him why he chose the word Mashable instead of Face Mash he said ‘f,…off you bastard, Face mash is not your idea’. So I re-posted the conversations we had two weeks earlier and he had to apologise and said he was going with Mashable. I took this as a sign that he wanted to throw me off the scent and take the site for himself. dave found the character of Mark Zuckerberg to be deceptive and dishonest and ended conversing with Mark Zuckerberg because of his dishonesty and lack of integrity

    After this dave started conversing with Dustin and Chris about an idea of mine called Facebook for an online service where students can post pictures and information on themselves and use it as a directory. They were very intrigued by my idea and wanted to know more.
    dave told them that in the beginning, it would be an online service just for Harvard students, and then spreading through the other campuses in America, joining them up together. The idea was to make it easy for people to connect with other university students so they could get an idea of what other campuses were like, and even eventually spreading through the general public, giving them an idea of what was offered at the different campuses.
    Dustin and Chris were very intrigued with my idea and said they wanted to be on board.
    dave talked extensively about my ideas of Facebook and went into great detail of how to get it set up and started. They queried about the finance of setting it up and I told them I was in contact with Tony Robbins, who was interested by the idea and we were having discussions regarding his financial backing of the project

    So we needed a platform dave made contact with paul ceglia and was in discussion about a platform for my idea the facebook
    but zuckerberg was dustin & chris roommate and zuckerberg made contact to paul ceglia to steal the idea facebook
    paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg but zuckerberg new what he was doing when he sign the contract
    (paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg } the contract was to David not zuckerberg .

    And what are you going to do zuckerberg when paul ceglia wins you can call the contract a fake a counterfeit but you cant can you zuckerberg Yes you did sign a contract zuckerberg In a email zuckerberg called paul ceglia a dum sucker in 2003 i david posted a copy of to friend and he set it fee and the roomer spread years a go that zuckerberg had sign the contract and yes the abc news room have a copy of the email

    So zuckerberg what are your options zuck i suppose you can tell the truth you see paul cegia had no legal right to sell you the platform
    david was in contact to paul about a platform suitable for facebook but you wonted to steal facebook by stealth and you will have to tell
    your mother and farther and sisters how you stole the idea facebook yes pay back is a bitch zuck and your co conspire in this was dustin
    yes dustin you told zuck to shut up about facebook you little prick

    dave then found another contact at Harvard, called Eduardo Saverin and invited him to join me in developing my idea, and also to find out what was going on between Dustin, Chris and Mark . eduardo offered finance to get facebook up and runing but zuckerberg spent the money on him self selfish prick zuck spent eduardo saverin money and spat in his face your best friend

    So ass one last effort to save facbook david contacted sean parker At the time, he was running an online site called Napstar, and he was also working on another site called Wired Hog parker at the time was on the move moving in to a new address : I started conversing with
    sean parker about the idea facebook ; so i contacted the guys and gave them the new address of sean parker; and it was at this time zuckerberg was starting to argue with eduardo saverin: you see zuck had what he needed to steal facebook :{sean parker}

    Sean wanted 55% ownership of the project for his input so dave told him this was unacceptable and then he turned round and told Mark Zuckerberg had made him a better offer. dave told him that Mark did not own the idea of Facebook.
    He then got smart and asked me if dave knew what emails were and whether I could produce any evidence. dave took this as an attempt to see whether I could prove everything that took place and for him to use this as a weapon to see if he could gouge out as much interest in Facebook as he could, and he tried to play me off against Zuckerberg to get the maximum holdings of Facebook. I received an email from Parker saying that Zuckerberg had offered him 5% and was I interested in offering him more. At this point, I told him to **** off and that Facebook was not Zuckerberg’s idea

    So dave found a site at Harvard called Harvard Connect (later, in 2004 changed to Harvard Connect To You) run by Cameron and Taylor Winklevoss, and dave explained everything about Facebook and the dealings with Zuckerberg, Dustin and Chris and how dave believed that Zuckerberg was in the process of stealing david idea, and I dave asked if the Winklevosses were interested in running Facebook on the Harvard site

    They expressed enthusiasm in the offer and liked the idea of running the site as they liked the concept of Facebook.They told me that they were going to change their site name and redesign it at that time (to Harvard Connect To You The person they called in to help them
    redesign their site was Mark Zuckerberg who then stole their platform : I told them that zuckerberg was a crook the winklevoss where to dumb and dupe by zuckerberg LooooooooL.
    And what do the winklevoss remind me off; its two building and the two buildings were the TWIN TOWERS you guys talk about the truth like you own the truth but you do not and never will .

    dave then went to Aaron Greenspan who was running house systems at Harvard and asked him (under an email non disclosure agreement) to run Facebook on his site which he agreed to do. aaron greenspan used the (info) to extort financal money out of facebook and zuckerberg paid the extortion money and dave call it extortion U see zuckerberg new aaron greenspan new zuck had stolen the idea facebook .I sent all the emails copy to aaron greenspan:{ aaron sold him self off like a hooker standing on a street corner } and what was that quotation aaron that quotation you set me about honour and truth you now the same bullshit the winklevoss are bullshiting on about

    zuckerberg then went on to create a FAKE CONNECT 2U account filled with FAKE information from the stolen platform he stole from the winklevoss Dave got a email from this FAKE CONNECT 2U account . but dave new it was FAKE it was zuckerberg .
    zuckerber wonted more info and idea to steal so dave gave one idea and it was to put a silver layer around the F word on facebook to see if zuckerberg was going to steal this idea and yes he did

    david then log a complaint to the FBI about this stolen fake connect 2u account with fake information and about mark zuckerberg
    dave posted a copy of the emails to ben mezrick and to david kirkpatrick as for kirkpatrick your book is a joke and so are you :
    you are just a fence jumper david kirkpatrick and its chris that is the gay one you dick ‘you sold yourself out you were given the full story of how zuckerberg stole facebook; and sold out.

    So there we have it the full story of how facebook started :

  3. Saw this movie last night at a premier “pre-release” showing. I think most people would view any based-on-a-true-story flick with some amount of skepticism. I have no way of knowing what is fact and what is fiction, but it was a very entertaining movie. Fast-paced, fast-talking, funny and never lost my interest. Go for the entertainment factor, if nothing else.

  4. Saw the movie premiere of The Social Network last night and I must say Hollywood got it right this time. They stuck very close to the facts and the truth yet the movie was very funny, entertaining, and genuinely thought-provoking.

    And I’m sure Zuckerberg will be launching some heavy-duty damage control schemes pretty soon as the movie makes it to the top of the box office chart for record time. It’s that good.

    The real question everyone should be asking after watching this movie is can zuckerberg be trusted with the personal and private info of 500 million people worldwide? And the answer is very clearly ABSOLUTELY NOT. Someone that greedy, dishonest, and lacking any ethics or conscience should NOT control that much info for his own personal gain. He betrayed and destroyed his own best friend for the sake of money and power and stole the idea of facebook from his schoolmates. Is that anyone you’d trust with your identity?

    I sure wouldn’t.

  5. Marc Patterson

    This is hilarious. If anyone believes “The Facebook Movie”, we have bigger problems on our hands. Facebook is something that has swept this world up in a whirlwind and is about to become a paid website. I wonder how many people will stick with it? I hear it is going to be $3 dollars per month. I think I can save $3 dollars and not read all the ridiculous “wannabe humor” that some people think they have posted on their walls. I can stick with Judge Judy.

    • Totally agree. If they turn it into a paying website after all their privacy and security violations, then only suckers, salespeople, and politicians (notice how a lot of them are getting into facebook now? Huhhh that’s not a good sign is it, lol) will pay for that crap.

      They might go from 400 milllion down to 40,000 in record time. But at $3 per sucker that’s still 120K a year the greedy zuckerberg will take to the bank. Think I’ll start a website biz and call it…… :)

  6. Does anyone think that a nation that elected George W. twice, where 26% of the population thinks we declared independence from a country other than England, where something called Reality TV competes with Roman gladiator ripoffs on desert islands – gives a crap about truth and the American Way?

    News as entertainment and “fair and balanced” movie scripts based on apocrypha are the standard. Decent acting and a script that flows easily without climbing beyond a 6th grade education are all that’s required for success.

    And little or no effect on society.

  7. I am sure that the movie will definitely be tweaked to suit the target audience and in some account will not reflect the true nature of the story. It will be interesting to hear Mark Zuckerber’s take on this when the movie comes out

  8. gweedo

    I know Zuckerberg. He is a dishonest person, a thief, a douchebag, supremely arrogant and the closes physical manifestation to “Evil” I’ve experienced in anyone I’ve ever known.

    The reality is, the genuinely evil in this world rarely get their due. If this movie is inaccurate on facts, but correctly portrays zuckerberg as a reprehensible human being, then it will be serving justice.

    After all, this is a company that unquestionably has suckered 500 million people into sharing private information with the promise that they would control that information, and then reneged on the promise by refusing to let people delete the information, and by exposing it to third parties without getting permission.

    • What do you mean that you “know” him? Personally, or do you just know what you’ve read about him?

      To me, he doesn’t seem “evil”- merely young. He did stupid stuff before Facebook was anything big; it hardly makes him a “physical manifestation of ‘Evil’.”

  9. Xander

    Aaron Sorkin is the writer I believe, not Andrew Ross Sorkin(no relation). Aaron wrote A Few Good Men and West Wing, among others.

  10. It’s just a movie – did Pirates of Silicon Valley unflattering portraits of Jobs and Gates diminish Apple or Microsoft’s success?

    I wrote a talk recently on how startups and technologists have been represented in media from Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs to the present day and though representations are generally pretty lowly, I don’t think its affected those industry’s too much.

    If you’re curious, the talk is at

  11. If the movie deviates sufficiently far from the facts, I would expect Ben Mezrich and David Fincher will risk being sued for defamation of character.