New York, Nov 21: Everything we needed to know about Facebook was right
in front of our faces, on the big screen, in 2010. Come with me on this
journey back in time, to the AMC Mountainside 10, on Route 22 in New Jersey, where I first saw “The Social Network.”
At the time, I was rooting for the young Mark Zuckerberg to get the better of the people trying to hold him back. He was an unusual movie protagonist,
introverted and inconsiderate, but wasn’t it time for the geeks to take
the power from the old guard? For the underdogs to beat the establishment?
When I streamed the movie the other day, I found my sympathies had shifted. Eight years (and many apology tours) later, “The Social Network” takes on a whole new meaning.
Watch it again and you’ll be reminded that Mr. Zuckerberg didn’t start out by
describing his creation with lofty phrases characterizing it as “a social mission to make the world more open and connected,” which is the way he often refers to it now.
His journey to moguldom began ignobly, with Facemash.com, a meanspirited site that encouraged his fellow male students at Harvard College to rate women on campus by their looks.
The movie shows him building that Facebook precursor by hacking into Harvard web pages to gain access to the women’s identification photos. Harvard calls his behavior a “violation of individual privacy,” and hauls Mr. Zuckerberg before its administrative board. Mark deactivates his site and apologizes.
Every movie needs foils, and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and the director David Fincher found theirs in a pair of well-heeled alpha males, the Winklevoss twins. But now, the Winklevii don’t seem quite so bad. Weren’t they, after all, the first of many to be run over by Mr. Zuckerberg’s ambitions?