Yesterday I took the afternoon off to partake in some carrot cake and movie watching with my mom. Since the movie was about Facebook, one of the first big social networks, I decided to call it "research."
A brief synopsis: After getting the boot from his girlfriend, Zuckerberg gets drunk and angry and creates facemash.com, a Web site that lets users pick the hottest between two Harvard girls' pictures (which he cleverly steals from various Harvard house's facebooks). This eventually evolves into The Facebook. The movie implies that he stole the idea from 3 other Harvard undergrads who wanted him to help them create ConnectU, a college based social network for Harvard. So the movie rapidly switches between the law suit with these 3 guys, a law suit with the other Facebook founder, Eduarodo Saverin and the time that The Facebook was being created and founded. Zuckerberg is portrayed the whole movie as a smart aleck, sarcastic, selfish, manipulative genius.
Three issues that surround the movie:
1) Is it true?
This movie is based on a book (The Accidental Billionaires) which is written based on information from many source, one of which(the main one) is scorned Facebook CFO, Eduardo Saverin. One of which is NOT Mark Zuckerberg. This means the book and movie are largely and admittedly based on speculation, blog posts, second hand information and first hand information from a scorned partner. Not exactly the best sources for the truth. One big possible discrepancy in the book and movie is the big breakup between Zuckerberg and his girlfriend that prompts him to start Facemash and eventually Facebook. Some say he was dating someone well before and well into the founding of Facebook. If that is true, it pretty much undermines the entire "angry coding to be popular and get revenge" aspect the entire movie is based on.
Since many of the large events in the movie/book were based on very public events, they can be recounted with court documents and investigative reports. Unfortunately this also means if you kept up with the lawsuits and controversy surrounding the beginnings of Facebook, you have already seen the movie.
2) Is is sexist?
I recently read a piece talking about how sexist this movie was because it did not have any brainy female characters who were central to the plot. I beg to differ. This movie did have its fair share of pretty, shiny, groupie females, but its a true story and they are there for a reason. There was a little extranous half-naked-girl dancing, but that also was just there to make a point. Zuckerberg and Saverin were not cool, they didn't go to parties, they didn't have girlfriends and no one at Harvard wanted them. Then, they made Facebook and girls did like them and want to.... hang out with them. Historically and factually there were no women working in Zuckerberg's dorm room writing the first code for Facebook. Please don't patronize women by throwing in a few funky female coders. 2/4 of the lawyers in the movie were smart, well spoken, strong women who kept their clothes on for the entire movie. That is more than you can say for most movies about college aged men.
3)Where is Mark Zuckerberg?
Since this movie is written with no input from Mark Zuckerberg and no real input from anyone who had not sued Mark Zuckerberg, there is no real insight into Mark Zuckerberg that is legitimate. Lets hear Zuckerberg's side of the story. I want some kind of first person narrative from him! Oh thats right, he is too busy running a 500,000,000 member social network worth 25 billion dollars.
So, in short, if you have any interest in social media, society, communities, relationships, business, sales, people, money or the future, see this movie. Even if you care about none of those things it will make you think. It made me think about what I was doing in college while these guys were building a multi-billion dollar empire...