October 5, 2010

The Social Network debunks Facebook origin myth

With the box-office success of The Social Network, the whole world will know that Facebook emerged not from an attempt by a college kid to connect with his friends, as the origin myth has it, but from a misogynist online prank.

The title speaks to the profound irony underlying this almost accidental invention: The man who invented the world's largest and most successful social network is devoid of social intelligence.

The central plot device is flash-forwards to founder Mark Zuckerberg's testimony at a legal deposition. Despite the obvious distortion of how a deposition works, the device works to remind us of the movie's essential accuracy. And, indeed, it had better be accurate. As unflattering a portrayal as it gives, and as wealthy as Zuckerberg is, the filmmakers certainly ran a risk of being sued for slander if they made a misstep. This legal risk alone makes the producers heroic.