Answer by Jimmy Wales:

I know a few of the people who are depicted in the movie including Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker.  I have heard some people comment on the movie in a way that I think is accurate: the worst thing about the movie is that as a movie it is actually pretty good, which means that it tells a compelling story.

Unfortunately, not much of that story is actually true.

Let's take one of the key elements of the movie – the suggestion that Mark created Facebook because a girl dumped him.  There's that silly "Rosebud" (reference to Citizen Kane) moment at the end when he's shown sadly reloading her profile page.  It's a great story, could come straight out of a dramatic Bollywood movie, but it actually has no resemblance to reality.  Mark is still married to the girl he was dating when he started Facebook.

If you think Mark is obsessed with money, for example, you're missing the point there as well.  I remember once sitting at a table with him, the Google guys, etc., and they were all talking about their jets.  As one does, haha.  I turned to Mark and said "Do you have a jet?"  And he responded with genuine bewilderment: "How would I ever have a jet?"  Facebook was already huge and valued in the billions.  For all I know, he may have one by now (and why not?), but it wasn't of any interest to him and not a goal that he held.

Similarly, Sean Parker's character in the movie is not really accurate.  It has some semblance of accuracy in a way.  Sean does like to throw extravagant parties.  But what is missing is his cleverness and basic sense of humanity.  Do you know what he likes to talk about privately?  Money, babes, power?  No, actually, he's really got strong academic interests in medical research.  He's a geek, and I mean that in the good way.

So, I would approach the movie as fiction – entertaining fiction – but try not to let it color your understanding of the people involved.

Is Mark Zuckerberg a bad person as depicted in the movie "The Social Network"?


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