500 million members. 207 countries. 25 billion dollar company. One name that connects us all. Facebook. This truly innovative and genius idea is accompanied by a heartbreaking and dramatic tale of it’s uprising. So dramatic, in fact, that various books have been written about the creation of Facebook. Most recently, and most notarized, this account was explored in the movie The Social Network. Directed by David Fincher, written by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin, this film is one that Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine calls, “better than the movie of the year, it also brilliantly defines the decade. It’s one of those rare movies that sums up the spirit of a generation and an era.” The Social Network was an outstanding piece of work that did extremely well at the box office as well as greatly reviewed by the critics. Unfortunately there were a few people who weren’t too fond of the film, to put it delicately. Namely, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook. Many believed that the film painted him in a bad light and exploited mistakes he made when he was only 19 years of age (but really, were they mistakes?). Also people believed Aaron Sorkin, 2010 Oscar winner for Best Screenplay, took a few too many liberties. I have to disagree with all of these accusations. Because The Social Network is my favorite movie, I have seen it countless times and each time I watch it, I see how each person’s actions are completely justified; especially Mark’s. Sorkin conducted multiple interviews, including Harvard grad Natalie Portman, who had experienced the beginings of the facebook phenomenon first hand, since she was living on campus at the time. He also got a hold of the various transcripts from two lawsuits, one with Eduardo Saverin and the other with the Winklevoss twins. Through countless press interviews the actors made sure to differentiate between the character Mark Zuckerberg and the actual Mark Zuckerberg.
When the movie came out, Mark Zuckerberg was careful not to publicly slam the film. I’m sure he knew that any controversy he began would just fuel the media and possibly promote the film further. Instead of hiring a crisis PR team, Zuckerberg turned to his company’s internal corporate communications group. As per adweek.com the first way they went about this was use one of Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes to speak what he felt was the truth about Mark Zuckerberg to New York Times. Then the communications group sought out The New Yorker, a highly respected publication to provide a fuller, in depth look at Mark Zuckerberg from his own personal perspective. When ever the press would question Zuckerberg about the film, he made sure to emphasize the fact that it is a work of fiction. I’ve listened and watch countless interview with the various cast and filmmakers of The Social Network and they always handle this situation extremely delicately. “‘I don’t want to be unfair to this young man whom I don’t know, who’s never done anything to me, who doesn’t deserve a punch in the face,” Sorkin said in one of several interviews. “I honestly believe that I have not done that.”‘ Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Mark in the film, never failed to mention how terribly uncomfortable this must be for Zuckerberg, to have the choices he made as a 19 year old permanently transcribed onto film and how gracious and sweet he’s been through all of this. Around the time of the release of the movie, Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to New Jersey schools. Eisenberg pointed out in an interview that he truly believes that Zuckerberg had the best intentions when doing so but whatever the motives behind that donation, $100 million is nothing to blink at. Zuckerberg also participated in a skit with Jesse Eisenberg when he was hosting Saturday Night Live in late January of this year poking fun at the situation. I believe Mark Zuckerberg’s actions throughout this past year to be amazing, he handled himself perfectly, laughing about the awkwardness in jest and donating to charity. If I were his PR team, I probably would’ve donated $100 million when I first got wind that there was going to be a Facebook movie and not publicize the donation within the week of release. But that is the only thing I would change!