THE SOCIAL NETWORK

“The Social Network,” a movie about Facebook, opens October 1. Its tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”

The “enemies” in question are the Winkelvoss brothers, two guys who sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea.

That’s in some dispute. Getting the idea for Facebook was easy, implementing it was hard.  Everybody and their Uncle Max had the idea. MySpace was already in existence and so were dozens of other social networks. Friendster, nearly identical to Facebook, was growing so fast it became the victim of its own success. When its servers were overwhelmed, the service slowed to a crawl and people jumped ship.

According to “The Facebook Effect,” a recent book by David Kilpatrick, Zuckerberg was a computer whiz from an early age, writing 12 programs before designing Facebook. One of his most notorious was “Face Mash,” which let students rank Harvard “hotties” solely by their looks.

It was Sean Parker, who founded the Plaxo social network and founded the music service Napster before joining the Facebook team, who was crucial to Facebook’s success, not the Winkelvoss brothers. According to the book,  Cameron Winkelvoss and his brother had a lot of ideas Zuckerberg rejected, such as getting students to click more so they would see more ads. The brothers had assigned Zuckerberg a project, but he was never paid for it, never signed a contract and only worked on it for ten hours.

Nevertheless, the movie portrayal of this fight should be interesting.  It’s based on a totally different book, “The Accidental Billionaires,” by Ben Mezrich. A cousin of an actor who works at Facebook is playing Zuckerberg. You can see the movie trailer and clips here.

Comments are closed.