Mapping ‘The Social Network’

By Emily Morgan

October 5, 2010 at 6:46am

The Social Network ruled the box office when it opened over the weekend, taking in $23 million.

The film has generated buzz for years leading up to its release, with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dismissing the film as “fiction.”

Although screenwriter Aaron Sorkin plays to the dramatic, the relationships of the major players are rooted in fact.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg, the complex antihero who betrays his friend and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield. Justin Timberlake is a scene-stealer as Napster founder and Facebook founding president Sean Parker, the Silicon Valley all-star who brings Zuckerberg’s company into the spotlight.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

The veracity of the film was a thorn for Zuckerberg, who originally told the New Yorker he didn’t plan to see it. Top Facebook executives reportedly campaigned to have scenes changed.

Objections aside, the real Sean Parker was Facebook’s first president and brought in the company’s initial round of angel investment from Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an investor in LinkedIn. After his departure from Facebook, Parker joined Thiel at venture capital firm Founders Fund.

Saverin and ConnectU founders Tyler Winklevoss, Cameron Winklevoss and Divya Narendra brought legal action against Zuckerberg, and all settled out of court.

Saverin, whose stake in Facebook decreased from 30% to 5%, made this year’s Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $1.15 billion.

Even Sorkin admits the film isn’t completely accurate, telling New York magazine, “I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling.”

Blogs such as the Daily Beast, the Hollywood Reporter and Slate have slogged through web history and legal documentation to discern fact from fiction in the film.

The Social Network was well received by critics and has created Oscar talk. Facebook even rented out two theaters for a company field trip.

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