Mark Zuckerberg & Aaron Sorkin Differ On ‘The Social Network’

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 11:32 pm,

David Fincher’s The Social Network is one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin brought a number of elements together to build a story that welded fact and fiction together to tell the tale of the rise of Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, of whom the main character in the film is based, recently explained that The Social Network focused on the wrong facts. He claims the only aspect the filmmakers got right were the clothes on his back. It’s an interesting argument, because the film firmly presents itself as real life – or does it?

Sorkin does not deny embellishing the real story of Facebook’s creation and creators. In fact, he argues that his tale is simply manufactured in a way that should entertain. In a New York Magazine interview, the screenwriter explained his side of the story.

“I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to story-telling.”

But even the book that Sorkin’s film was based on was told from a highly sensationalized perspective. Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires started with a phone call from Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder who desperately wanted to explain how Zuckerberg screwed him over.

From there, it was a tilted story. And from this novel emerged Sorkin’s structure. Even Mezrich admitted to pumping up the excitement in his biographical account.

“There’s a whole cabal of old-school journalists who hate the way I write nonfiction. It’s a true story, but I write in a cinematic, thriller-esque style. It’s a valid form of nonfiction that dates back to Hunter Thompson and Tom Wolfe. Or maybe it’s a genre that I’m trying to create.”

The Social Network movie1 Mark Zuckerberg & Aaron Sorkin Differ On The Social Network

Most people who saw The Social Network don’t seem to have a problem with the reality of it all. That’s a testament to Sorkin’s writing ability. But not everybody is willing to sit back and let Zuckerberg be the brunt of a Hollywood joke.

Let’s face it, Fincher’s film presented him as a relentless bully with a computer instead of muscles. It also made Facebook’s creation seem like a ploy to get back at a girl, rather than the simple desire to create.

The film’s representation of Mark Zuckerberg created a monster that I would never want to meet. The punk genius, as the promotional campaign labeled him, was a persona that the real Zuckerberg isn’t so sure he earned. In fact, he argues that The Social Network had its priorities backwards.

Watch Zuckerberg explain the truth behind The Social Network‘s allegedly flawed account of the creation of Facebook. His nonchalance is a disturbing characteristic of a man so sure of himself that he doesn’t feel the need to prove his worth to anybody.

I’ll admit to having no knowledge of the debauchery behind Facebook before seeing The Social Network. I opened up a few Zuckerberg interviews to gauge the real-life persona before watching Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal. But it’s difficult to truly know somebody when they are on-camera. People change when a camera rolls – nice guys become jerks and jerks become nice guys.

If The Social Network got one thing right, it is an era where social media’s stranglehold on pop culture was just finding its grip. As a part of that cultural movement, I don’t need a book or interview to prove Sorkin’s perfect encapsulation of a time like no other.

The Social Network Timberlake Eisenberg Mark Zuckerberg & Aaron Sorkin Differ On The Social Network

For me, The Social Network is not about Mark Zuckerberg’s personality or why he created Facebook in the first place. I could care less if Rooney Mara’s in-movie girlfriend existed or not. When a film claims to be based on a true story, I find that completely different from claiming it is a true story.

David Fincher’s latest film is everything it tried to be and more. The characters in the film are simply a caricature of a time where everything moved faster than the world was prepared for. I have no doubt the overwhelming ego presented in The Social Network still exists somewhere inside Mark Zuckerberg, but the film’s portrayal is more about the drama than the person.

Whose side to you fall on? Do you agree with Sorkin’s attempt at dramatizing real life? Was the film unfair to represent Mark Zuckerberg as somebody he claims not to be? Sound off in the comments section below.

Source: New York Magazine, Scott Feinberg via FilmStage

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I tend to agree with Sorkin in that the story was dramatized more for the movie because that’s what the art form of movies is supposed to do. it’s definitely an interesting argument but when Mark is saying above that he only did it because he likes to build stuff and he’s had the same girlfriend is only half right. we all try to make ourselves stand out to our buddies and the opposite sex so he must have gotten his ego inflated somewhere along the way to the point now he wants to make it seem unselfish. the social network is the best movie of the year not only because it introduces the story of this invention to the public but also makes you see this real guy who could be one of your friends talking about the importance of the social networking era. really cool stuff.

  2. I agree…
    The movie was just there to entertain, I dont really care if it was exactly what happened… It was witty and sarcastic and enjoyable to watch… It did make me interested in what really happened… but u can find all that out on the internet…

  3. Sorkin and Fincher gave an interview about the movie in TIME magazine. I don’t think it was their intention to paint this guy as a punk genius or anything like that. They actually empathized with him……… Read TIME!!

  4. Ah, the big question about storytelling… is their such thing as a “true” story?

  5. No there is no such thing as a true story because once an artist/writer begins to actually write about a true event or series of events their own perceptions will automatically change the outcome or final may be true in their minds but truth with the author’s slant attached to it..

    Three sides to every story

    Yours, Mine and The Truth.

  6. To be frank, I thought Zuckerman came off pretty well in the film… maybe that’s more a reflection on me than anything else, but to me, the movie made it out as if he actully did feel bad about what he did to Eduardo and that he was somewhat pressured into it by Parker (who looked like he felt no remorse for those actions).

    As for him stealing the idea from the Winklevoss brothers, the film could have played that a lot worse than it did, but it still managed to make Zuckerman a sympathetic character.

  7. See I really loved the movie. And after seeing it i (like many people) began to see zuckerberg in a negative light. But i cant help but feel sorry for the guy.

    What zuckerberg should be doing is not denying whether these events happened (because for the most part im sure the major things did happen, i.e eduardo is more or less kicked out of fb), but he should be arguing how these events were perceived. As the article clearly states, this movie is based off of the book “accidental billionaires” and this book is from the mind and story telling of eduardo (for the most part). so this story is really from eduardos perspective. Naturally, eduardo is going to see/paint zuckerberg as some ultra egomaniac who screwed him out of facebook for no other reason than because who is a selfish guy and just wanted more fame and to be like parker (timberlakes character).

    But from what I have read this is not entirely fair to label the situation as. Eduardo was the cfo and had a job to perform the cfo duties, including finding investors for a company that was fast on the rise. Zuckerberg met parker who was able to find investors, and who did find the initial investor, and he simply began performing all of the duties that a cfo would. So naturally zuckerberg decided it was time to part ways with eduardo (who wasnt doing anything, i mean he didnt even move out with the company to LA when they were starting up) and team up with parker (who clearly had the right ideas/methods/connections).

    Idk, i dont want to defend zuckerberg, cause im sure he is extremely selfish and full of himself. I just want to aknowledge that this movie is from the point of view of someone who hates the guy and things he screwed him out of 20 billion dollars (how would you portray a guy like that if you were telling a story about him). We just gotta remember that im sure zuckerberg has a point of view in all of this where he fully explains and justifies what/why he did all the stuff he did. Now thats a movie i would like to see next, and see how the two compare.

    On a side note, I was doing some reading and found this interesting. The twins who sued zuckerberg did win like we saw in the movie. From what i read they won something like “100,000 shares of stock” in the company (i cant remember how many shares it said exactly). Regardless, the twins thought they won 100,000 shares of preffered stock, which would have a value around 45 million. But when zuckerberg paid them he only paid them with 100,000 shares of common stock, which has a value of 25 million. So just this past May the twins filed a lawsuit at zuckerberg saying he screwed them over with this again.

    So maybe zuckerberg really is a gigantic prick who will screw anyone over just to make a few more bucks (even when hes worth 20 billion lol). Or maybe hes just guy with extreme social issues who cant seem to communicate what he believes/thinks. Either way…id pick his life over mine any day haha.

  8. All I know is that me and my 4 friends saw it, and now we all love Zuckerberg.

    • Really??? Funny, Mark’s friends probably thought he was cool to watch movies with too just like your friends r. Hope they don’t screw you over too

  9. nobody gets upset when Texas Chainsaw Massacre claims its based on a true story. Why is this a big deal?

    • Allen

      Probably because Zuckerberg is in a position to a) be grossly affected by this movies portrayal of him and b) can react to it. The exact same thing would happen should someone make a movie on the founding of Apple or Microsoft and paint those figures in an unflattering light. Zuckerberg, as a billionaire and in a position where, should he wish to, he can get any news outlet to take his call and print his side of the story is of course going to respond to this. He makes it a big deal, so it’s a big deal.

      • Watch “Pirates of Silicon Valley”

        • Is this a movie?

  10. With the way FB has treated users with a lack of respect and Zuckerberg’s own comments like “Dumb – F…’s” when speaking of early FB users makes it very difficult to believe the portrayal of him in the movie is anything but inaccurate. I admit I have not seen the film but I have followed the FB fiascos and fallout’s for years and I’m glad I never handed over my personal info to this guys management.

  11. Wow. I find it weird that he said that Erica Albright never existed, but in reality she did, and her name was Jessica Alona. Mark Zuckerberg wrote on a blog that he thought she was a b**** the same night he created and crashed Harvard’s database while being “slightly intoxicated”. Aaron Sorkin took the opening lines of the movie from his blog literally word-for-word and had Jesse Eisenberg say them, who by the way did an amazing job; I loved his potrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. This movie actually made me appreciate Mark and I don’t think of him as a sociopath at all; I actually kind of think of him as a hero in his own way.

    • Please tell me how he is a hero then after the comments u just made.

  12. If you’re going to claim to base this movie off of a true story and sell tickets then dang nabbit base it off of a true story. Get all of the appropriate research done and try giving the public the TRUTH for a change. I enjoyed the movie but i have a genuine curiosity to know what really went down in the fledging stages of FB The Zuchinator among the other characters of the FB family have made an impact on the world. Their story deserves to be told. Mr. Zuckerberg, they made Batman multiple times why don’t you make FB “The Movie” happen for real. It’s only money I personally think your legacy is more important than dirty ole money!

  13. Bottom line: Zuckerberg has NEVER denied that he stole the idea from the brothers depicted in the book Accidental Billionaires or the film The Social Network.

    There’s TONS of evidence that he really DID steal the idea, lie to the guys he was supposed to be coding for, and screwed over his only friend and roommate. His drunken blog posts are all available, and e-mails and chat logs from his hard drive have been leaked that show he really DID confess to acquaintances that he was deliberately screwing over the Winklevosses and KNEW that he was.

    The stuff that everyone argues about on sites like this….whether he really did it to get girls or not, or all the other crap….is irrelevant.