Photo: ‘The Social Network’/Sony Pictures Releasing
If you’re into movies, you may have heard of director David Fincher. His filmography includes the highly regarded dramas Seven, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. However, The Social Network, a true story about the creation of Facebook, might be his magnum opus. His direction combined with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script resulted in one of the most brilliant pieces of art you’ll ever consume: a real-life story that only grows in relevance the older it gets. The film’s ten-year anniversary, along with the new The Social Dilemma documentary bringing the evils of social media to light plenty of reason to re-analyze the film a decade later.
Maya Phillips from the New York Times said it best: “Fincher’s film unknowingly pointed to how the site would manipulate personal data — (CEO) Mark (Zuckerberg) uses code to transcribe students’ information from one platform to his new one, without their consent — and how solitary it could actually make users feel.”
The film essentially predicted the future. Nowadays, Facebook and all other social media sites sell our personal data to advertisers, so they can sell products to us based on what we’re interested in. What Zuckerberg did in the movie was the same thing on a much smaller scale. It’s like watching a video of somebody creating a baby monster after it’s already grown up and taken over the world.
‘The Social Network’ Provides Context
Watching Zuckerberg and his friends go from collaborating to suing each other over stolen ideas is a microcosm of the disloyal, immoral nature of the website. The original idea may have been about online social connection, but it quickly developed into a money-grabbing, data-stealing company that put profit ahead of privacy and loyalty. The tragic irony of the story is how these Ivy League kids invested their time into a new way for people to connect with each other, but the connections amongst themselves were phony and superficial. Everyone wanted control and credit for the golden idea of Facebook, rather than working with each other peacefully. They never actually cared much about each other, the same way Facebook doesn’t care about its users’ privacy.
William Goldman from Complex wrote “It’s unsurprising that a platform built on such awful foundations has descended into spreading disinformation and evil conspiracy theories in 2020. Zuckerberg continues to reject Facebook’s culpability as a home for these horrid ideas, playing the middle to maximize profits for himself.”
In The Social Dilemma, they played a clip of Zuckerberg not taking responsibility for Russian bots on Facebook swaying the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, saying “there’s a lot of factors at play.” According to AP News, Facebook would later admit that it had to remove Russian accounts “focused on stoking racial divisions…The takedowns follow a report last week that found Moscow’s campaign of election interference hasn’t let up since 2016, and in fact has gotten more difficult to detect.”
Let’s be honest: Zuckerberg will never be honest about his company’s immoral practices as long as they make him even richer than he already is.
Life Has Changed Since 2010
When this movie came out, Facebook was a shell of its current self, still gaining traction as a growing online entity. I was in middle school, just starting to find out about social media. Facebook was a new and exciting phenomenon, and it was something all the cool kids used. Back then, it was just an innocent, cool new tool we used to talk to people. I remember being excited when people liked my posts, or when a girl would message me on there. If only we knew what it would turn out to be.
Fincher and Sorkin helped plant the seed in people’s minds that the reality of social media was bleaker than we would’ve liked to think. Who knew that likes and follows would turn into the mass spread of misinformation and an attack on global privacy? When I saw the movie back then, I thought it was well-done, but maybe a bit overdramatized. Could some new website on the internet really be that big of a deal? Now, I realize that it was ahead of its time, and more relevant than ever.
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Where Are They Now?
- Played by Jesse Eisenberg in the film, is now the fourth-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $99.2 billion, according to Business Insider. Despite his exorbitant wealth, his life hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine over the years. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion due to their violations of privacy and misuse of user data. While $5 billion is more like $5 to Mr. Zuckerberg, the real damage was done to his reputation rather than his wallet. The public is now much more aware of his shady practices than it was a few years ago.
- Played by Andrew Garfield, former Facebook Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and friend of Zuckerberg, isn’t doing too badly for himself either. According to Forbes, the Brazilian mogul has an estimated worth of $14.1 billion. He was critical of the film, saying “The movie was clearly intended to be entertainment and not a fact-based documentary…Facebook wasn’t built out of a Harvard dorm window. And I would never throw a laptop at someone like it appears in the movie. Not even at Mark.” Maybe things were exaggerated, but the general idea remains valid: the crew clearly grew apart, and everyone’s true colors eventually came out.
- played by Justin Timberlake in the film, former Facebook founding president, has been openly critical of the website over the years. In 2017, he said “It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” It’s good to know at least one of these people has some sort of moral conscience and thinks about other things besides profit.
The rest of us non-billionaires are left to research and do the best we can to avoid the evils of social media. If you still haven’t seen The Social Network, check it out. Then watch The Social Dilemma to see the more developed problem that the former film was alluding to.
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Joshua Valdez is an entertainment journalist who likes to write about the complexities of his favorite movies and TV shows, often relating them to real-world issues. He also enjoys writing about current events in the entertainment landscape, and is always looking for interesting topics to cover. Rather than gossip, he focuses on how events in the entertainment world reflect on society at large. This was a significant factor in why he chose to write for Hollywood Insider, as they focus on art and culture over gossip and scandal. His ultimate goal is to help the reader learn something new.