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How Accurate Was the Movie The Social Network?

Altering the Facts Makes for Great Drama but Poor History:
A Review of Aaron Sorkin’s movie “The Social Network”

Aaron Sorkin earned a stellar reputation as the producer of “West Wing,” an idealistic TV show about a smart and sophisticated American president with good ethics and equally good policies. Having high expectations for a Sorkin production, I was disappointed in his current release, “The Social Network.”

“The Social Network” is the story of Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, which has 800 million users worldwide and is currently estimated to be worth $25 billion. That’s no small feat for a 26-year-old entrepreneur. How did he do it?

Zuckerberg, played beautifully by Jesse Eisenberg, is a 19-year-old student at Harvard as the movie opens. He is having drinks with his girlfriend, and manages to insult her and offend the audience within less than five minutes of crisp, sardonic dialogue. Sorkin establishes immediately that Zuckerberg is arrogant, insufferable and Mensa material, and we cheer when his girlfriend, Erica, breaks up with him. A frustrated and intoxicated Zuckerberg returns to his dorm, thinking that he will create a social media site where Harvard men can rate female students in terms of their attractiveness. He calls the site “FaceMash.”

It’s a powerful scene, arguing that the birth of Facebook was motivated by teen angst and revenge. The only problem is that it never occurred. Zuckerberg didn’t even know a woman named Erica, although he did drunkenly blog about a Harvard coed named Jessica Alona, but he denies that he ever went out with her or that she was the driving force behind Facebook. In fact, Mark had the same girlfriend for the last eight years and she is now his wife.

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