I'm no friend of Facebook film, says Zuckerberg
Thursday 21 October 2010
It's the movie everyone has been talking about, with the word Oscar regularly tripping from the lips of critics. But one voice has been notably absent from the discussion of The Social Network until now.
Having previously stated he had "no plans" to see the film, which depicts the fraught early days of Facebook, the website's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that he now has. Somewhat unsurprisingly, he's not a fan.
The film's producers "just can't wrap their heads around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things," he told a crowd of aspiring entrepreneurs at an event at Stanford University.
The movie follows the early days of the foundation of the website, while Zuckerberg was an undergraduate at Harvard. It portrays him as ambitious, driven and intent on success for his creation, which he feels will allow him to access exclusive social groups and put behind him his days as an isolated geek in his dorm room, writing computer code for his own entertainment.
Zuckerberg conceded the movie wasn't entirely at fault. "It's interesting the stuff that they focused on getting right – like every single shirt and fleece they had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own," he said. But, he said, the similarity with his own life ends there.
"The whole framing of the movie is, I'm with this girl – who doesn't exist in real life – who dumps me... which has happened in real life, a lot," he said, to laughter from the audience. "And basically the framing is that the whole reason for making Facebook is because I wanted to get girls, or wanted to get into clubs."
In reality, Zuckerberg said he had been with his current girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, since before the advent of Facebook – while at the start of the film he is unceremoniously dumped by an invented character called Erica Albright.
Zuckerberg's comments have been greeted with surprise, because until now Facebook has been careful not to attack the film, which is based on Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires.
The movie, in which none of Facebook's staff or employees collaborated, is already a huge success, and is doing no harm to the company's position as the world's pre-eminent social networking website.
However, several blogs have questioned Zuckerberg's claims that the Albright character is entirely fictitious. The Facebook Effect, an earlier book, claimed Zuckerberg had dated a Berkely undergraduate during a break in his relationship with Ms Chan.
In an interview with The New Yorker last month, Zuckerberg confessed to sending a string of instant messages in which he called the first wave of users who joined Facebook "dumb fucks" who "trust me".
Voicing his concerns over the film, he said: "I think a lot people will look at that stuff, you know, when I was 19, and say, 'Oh, well, he was like that... He must still be like that, right?'"
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