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Film / The Social Network

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The face that started it all...

"You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole."
Erica Albright

The Social Network is a 2010 film by David Fincher. Largely in flashback, it tells the story of the founding of the phenomenally successful friending network Facebook and the rise of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to the status of youngest billionaire in history (with some artistic liberties).

Set at Harvard, in the fall of 2003 Mark develops a student "hotness" rating website (using illegally obtained pictures) that becomes so popular it crashes the school's servers. His resulting publicity catches the attention of the twin Winklevoss brothers, who conscribe him to develop a Harvard-exclusive networking website. Mark takes that idea and works out a related networking website with his close friend Eduardo, who fronts the money for the start-up costs.

"The Facebook" becomes an instant hit, with neither Mark nor Eduardo knowing exactly where to go from there. Along comes Napster legend Sean Parker who wiggles himself into the business and outlines how big this project is going to end up. Mark is enraptured by Parker's vision, but Eduardo is constantly worried that it's growing too big too fast. On another front, the Winklevoss twins are enraged that Mark effectively "stole" their idea, which raises the question of how closely The Facebook matches their original idea and the validity of intellectual property.


Jesse Eisenberg stars as Zuckerberg, Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, Brenda Song as Christy Lee and pop singer Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker. The script was written by Aaron Sorkin, adapted from Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires. None of the Facebook staff, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, were involved with the project. One of the co-founders, Eduardo Saverin, was a consultant for Mezrich's book.

Film critics praised it to high heaven; among its accolades is declaration that this film is "the Citizen Kane of the 21st century" (which is apt when you consider the themes that the two movies share). Among the frequently-mentioned strengths include the well-written script, beautiful visuals, and its tackling of the question of what it really means to be "connected" (or rather disconnected) in modern society. The general consensus seems to be that the film is one of those rare milestones that captures the spirit of the time it was made.


It won three Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay (for Aaron Sorkin), Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), but lost Best Picture and Director to The King's Speech.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Despite their best efforts to maintain their professional composure, Sy and Marilyn have this reaction to several of Mark's snarky comments.
  • Adapted Out: Of all of this movie's instances of Artistic License, probably the biggest is that there's never any mention of Mark Zuckerberg's then-girlfriend (now his wife) Priscilla Chan. Of course, if the filmmakers had depicted Zuckerberg as having a stable love life, it probably wouldn't have made the whole Lonely at the Top theme quite so dramatic, and they wouldn't have been able to portray his breakup with Erica Albright as such a defining moment in his life.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Divya Narendra. Aside from the Race Lift, the actor who played him doesn't have anything near his chiseled features in real life.
  • Adults Are Useless: Granted the main characters aren't small children, but all the adults they go to for help simply blow them off - Prince Albert, the lawyers (one can almost forgive Mark for his Jerkass behaviors towards them) and most of all the Harvard president Larry Summers.
  • Affably Evil: Sean. For a Jerkass like him, he's very charming.
  • All Men Are Perverts: The principle Facemash operates on in the film. In real life, however, Facemash featured comparison of male faces as well as female ones.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The film cuts to black and ends before we can see the result of Mark friend-requesting Erica.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Inverted. The DVD Commentary mentions that the note that says "u dick" was originally supposed to say something else. Also, strong language (as evidenced by the behind-the-scenes footage) and shots of drug use were cut for the PG-13 rating, and apparently scenes with more nudity were filmed. Movie news websites said that the filmmakers were deliberating whether to keep or cut them.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Sean Parker argues that the music industry lost against Napster. Eduardo pointed out that the music industry won in court. However, Sean's subsequent question about a former records store shuts Eduardo up.
    Sean: I brought down the record companies with Napster, and Case'll suffer for their sins too.
    Eduardo: Sorry, you didn't bring down the record companies. They won.
    Sean: In court.
    Eduardo: Yeah.
    Sean: You wanna buy a Tower Records, Eduardo?
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The French Literature major who sleeps with Sean Parker speaks grammatically correct French, but her pronunciation is preeeeetty rocky (which may be simply indicative of her inexperience, considering she's an undergrad).
  • Badass Boast: Mark gets tired of Gretchen's (Eduardo's lawyer) suggestions and silences her with a pretty epic one.
    Mark: Ma'am, I know you've done your homework and so you know that money isn't a big part of my life, but at the moment I could buy Mt. Auburn Street, take the Phoenix Club and turn it into my ping pong room.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Eduardo when he decides to seek revenge on Mark and Sean by suing them for all their worth after they stab him in the back.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Amy's line "Tu fais l'amour a la jolie fille" ("You've just made love to a pretty girl").
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mark succeeds in creating Facebook and turning it into a company, but he's lost his best friend, his hero, and everyone else important to him. At least he's realized the consequences of his actions... maybe.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Eduardo being accused of animal crueltynote  is not portrayed in the most serious light. At one point, he remarks that it's a worse crime to be accused of than necrophilia, to which Mark agrees.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Downplayed with Sean's labeling himself an entrepreneur and Amy's swiftly translating it as being unemployed, to Sean's slight chagrin.
  • Bollywood Nerd: Divya Narendra.
  • Book-Ends: Beginning and ending scenes feature Zuckerberg being assessed by a more grounded female character; specifically whether he is an "asshole."
    • Also, an Ironic Echo version — the movie begins with Mark working with Eduardo on Facemash after being dumped by Erica. The movie ends with Mark trying to friend Erica on Facebook after seeing just how much of a chasm is now between him and Eduardo.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Divya has this to say after he finds out that Mark is expanding.
    Divya: I want an injunction, I want damages, I want punitive relief, and I want him dead.
  • Brick Joke: At one point, Sean advises Mark to get himself a business card that simply says "I'm CEO, bitch." Eventually, after Mark ends up severing his ties with Sean after his drug bust, it's revealed that he actually did get the card. Of course, given the context of the second scene, it's not as funny as it should be.
  • Broken Pedestal: Mark is quite admiring of Sean's power and ideas, but his faith in him wavers when he finds out about Sean's arrest.
    • Or possibly earlier, when Sean helped force out Eduardo: it's implied that Mark may have been responsible for the arrest.
  • Cameo: An unaltered Josh Pence (who played the body of one of the Winklevoss twins) as the guy asking if the bathroom's busy after Mark and Eduardo hook up with Alice and Christy inside.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Mark, to a varying extent and with varying degrees of justification, ends up screwing over everyone else involved in the creation process of Facebook.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Christy. Made evident when she questions Eduardo having his Facebook relationship status as "single" and then sets his gift for her -- a silk scarf -- on fire in a trash bin and drops it on his bed. And then she has the audacity to ask him if he's going back already — with a pouty face and great big puppy-dog eyes. Yikes, Eduardo wasn't kidding when he told Mark she was nuts.
  • Closer to Earth: Seemingly the junior lawyer Marilyn.
  • Composite Character: Prior to the movie, Shawn Fanning was the most well-known person behind Napster, with many unaware of his business partner Sean Parker. The film frames Parker, not Fanning, as the well-recognized sole founder of Napster. It's been argued that the film's Sean Parker is intended as a composite of Parker and Fanning, even though Fanning was the one who actually founded the company.
  • Creator Cameo: Writer Aaron Sorkin as a potential business investor.
  • Curse Cut Short: After Summers dismisses the Winklevoss brothers' arguments, he asks if there's anything else he can do for them.
    Tyler: (muttering) You can take the Harvard student handbook and shove it up your
    Cameron: Ty!
  • Cycle of Revenge: If the main characters would lose some resentment and learn some forgiveness, Mark and Eduardo's friendship could have been saved instead of being destroyed by escalating vengeful acts.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost everyone at one point or another, but especially Mark, as well as Harvard President Larry Summers in his verbal beatdown of the Winklevoss brothers.
  • Death Glare: Downplayed; in the opening scene, Erica's eyes progressively turn into a more and more incensed dagger-staring glare as Mark unwittingly insults her more and more.
  • Demand Overload: In universe. The early incarnation of Facebook was a basic "Attractiveness Rating" web site piggybacking on Harvard servers, which was so unexpectedly popular it crashed the servers.
  • Demoted to Extra: Chris Hughes. To a lesser extent Dustin Moskovitz.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Played with. At one point in a deposition between Mark and the Winkelvoss twins, Mark tells them, "If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you'd have invented Facebook." On the surface, it seems like this trope played straight, but is really saying that if the twins were the true creators of the Facebook idea, they would be the owners of the developed site — but they're not, Mark is.
  • Determinator: Eduardo, spending 14 hours a day riding subways in New York so that he can go around trying to attract advertisers for the site. And getting almost no name-brand takers.
  • Digital Head Swap: To portray the Winklevoss twins, using two different actors with the first actor's head placed on the other's body.
  • Dirty Coward: Sean flinches like a sissy when Eduardo fakes like he's going to hit him after Sean and Mark screwed him out of the company. For a moment Eduardo gets to grin like a smug bastard, commenting that Sean's cowardice makes him feel "tough".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The film makes it hard not to compare Eduardo's obsessive behavior as a partner to Chrissy's behavior as a girlfriend.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Christy's crazy possessiveness over Eduardo is Played for Laughs, with Eduardo having to juggle a phone call while she sets his gift on fire treated in a goofy light. A common occurrence in Sorkin's works, a comedy scene with the genders inverted is nigh unthinkable.
  • Double Vision: Did you know that the Winklevoss twins were played on set by two actors (Armie Hammer as Cameron and Josh Pence as Tyler), but Hammer's face was digitally superimposed in post-production onto Pence's body, so that the twins would look exactly alike? No, you didn't. Because it is seamless.
  • Dramedy: At least up until the 2nd half.
  • Empathic Environment: As Mark learns about Sean's arrest, the lights begin to go out in the Facebook offices, mirroring his despondency.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
  • Everyone Has Standards: Mark is clearly made out to be a smug, antisocial Jerkass with a huge head, but he's clearly not happy with Sean picking on Eduardo while firing him. And while he has a notoriously low opinion of women, Sean partying and doing drugs with a group of underage interns repulses him. Whether or not Mark ratted on him, it would clearly have been more than just as an executive decision.
  • Eureka Moment: When Dustin asks if a girl in his class is in a relationship, Mark gets this which leads him into creating the relationship status.
  • Everything Is Online: Played with: in the beginning of the movie, Mark specifically mentions that because a certain college house's database isn't online, he can't access any of the photos for Facemash. But this is a movie about Facebook, so one of the major themes is, of course, everything (from angry drunken break-up rants to the dreaded relationship status) becoming available online.
    • One of Sean's big lines is how society has moved to bigger and bigger communities, farms to cities. Now, everyone will live "on the internet."
  • Evil Mentor: Sean Parker for Mark. Although he's not actually actively mentoring Mark in being evil, he's just a morally reprehensible person giving business advice.
  • Fanservice: Sean Parker is first introduced shirtless in bed after sleeping with an attractive college student, who spends her only scene wearing nothing but a college sweatshirt and a pair of panties (with the camera lingering on her backside for a suspiciously long time).
    • The Phoenix Club party in the beginning where many female students are invited and some ditch their clothes during the night.
  • Fatal Flaw: While the whole story is likely an exaggeration of actual events, Marylin is correct in stating that Mark's Insufferable Genius act would make him lose in the actual court case, so he should just cut his losses and settle.
  • The Film of the Book: Of Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires... sort of. See In Name Only.
  • First Law of Tragicomedies: The film's last act is more serious in tone.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Even ignoring the fact that the film is (loosely) based on true events, the opening scenes make it apparent that Eduardo has been screwed out of Facebook and is suing Mark for that reason.
  • Framing Device: Dual depositions, one of Zuckerberg v. Saverin, and the other Zuckerberg v. the Winklevoss twins.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the millionth member party, the screen is refreshed to show 1,000,046 people have joined Facebook. This is at exactly 1 hour, 46 minutes, and 46 seconds into the movie.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: Mark considers the Winklevoss's and Divya's lawsuit to be one of these, and Marilyn freely admits that they could probably win the case against them if Mark himself was not so socially awkward and unfriendly. Fincher and Sorkin have in fact been criticized by writers such as this one for presenting their case in an overly sympathetic light (Larry Summers's epic verbal beatdown of them notwithstanding).
  • Funny Background Event: Dustin is in the background during Mark and Eduardo's first onscreen conversation. His particular reaction to what could be construed as minor Ho Yay ("I need you." "I'm here for you.") and the correction ("No, I need the algorithm you use to rank chess players.") is to roll over, laughing.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Cameron Winklevoss is very reluctant to sue initially because "gentlemen of Harvard" do not drag other students through the courts.
  • G.I.F.T.: Mark, absolutely. While obnoxious enough in person, he becomes even worse behind a computer screen.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Two women are shown kissing in the FaceMash montage. Partially justified; it's open for interpretation whether it's actually happening in the elite clubs or simply a figment of the characters' imagination.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: None of the main characters are presented as either totally sympathetic or despicable. Mark is an arrogant Jerkass, but a smart one with shades of a tragic hero; the Winklevosses are just as arrogant and jerk-y rich boys who seem to think the world owes them one, but they don't want to drag Mark through the court system and are honestly convinced that he stole the idea for Facebook; Divya is right up there with them; Sean is selfish and obnoxious, but more of a weakling than a straight-up asshole and he does know what he's talking about business-wise; Christy is just bat-shit crazy rather than truly malicious; Eduardo comes the closest to being a straight up good guy, but shows some of the most hesitance and timidity over the importance of Facebook.
    • Eduardo's great flaw is that he can be incredibly passive-aggressive and vindictive when someone crosses him. Pointing out that he hadn't grabbed any investors yet was enough for him to take his ball and go home. While it comes off as a CMOA, his reactions after Mark and Sean dilute his shares to nothing is essentially that of a child who has been told he can't play in the sandbox anymore. Of course that still doesn't justify the way Mark and Sean screwed him over.
    • Eduardo acts snarky and condescending towards Sean from their first meeting. Perhaps justified by Sean's reputation and later actions, but needlessly creating an enemy from a potential friend/partner isn't a smart move.
      • Then again, Sean is a Jerkass, and he was clearly manipulating Mark and Eduardo against each other so that he could have Mark all to himself as he clearly targeted Mark as his next meal ticket.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mark is jealous of Eduardo for securing a place in the Phoenix club, and Eduardo's lawyer suggests this might have been part of the reason he cut Eduardo out of the company. It's also suggested that Eduardo is jealous of Sean and his success.
  • Hate Sink: Sean Parker. In a story full of Gray and Gray Morality, he's the closest character portrayed as an outright villain due to how much of a Jerkass he is.
  • Heel Realization: Mark experiences this, after Eduardo berates him and Sean in the office, along with Marilyn's speech towards him.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Winkelvoss twins may be this. Eduardo counts in his opposition of Mark, to a extent.
  • Heroic BSoD: Eduardo's scene in the Facebook office.
  • Hide Your Gays: Perhaps an inadvertent consequence of the film's focus on the characters' misogynistic world. Or deliberate because of the chosen narrative. Of the four Facebook founders (and Sean Parker), the openly gay Chris Hughes is the only one whose romantic life or sexuality isn't depicted in any way (on the other hand, he simply didn't have many lines at all). However, nameless women are shown kissing each other during the FaceMash montage.
    • In all fairness the shot of two girls kissing at the party is a counter point to four nerds staring at a computer screen. It's used to show that they are not the cool kids on campus.
  • Historical Beauty Update:
    • Played straight with several of the other characters though, notably Eduardo. Somewhat with Mark.
    • Also played straight with Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • The Winkelvoss twins. Some suggest the real twins were not quite like the ones the film put in a sympathetic light. However, the film does show some of their subtle Jerkass tendencies.
    • Eduardo Saverin has been on record saying that he was indifferent to being part of Facebook's company operations. His lawsuit was just because he wanted his to keep his agreed upon financial stake. Additionally, the film leaves out the incident where Saverin went behind Zuckerberg's back and began running ads for another startup he was involved in on the Facebook site.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Possibly being made a Villain Protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed in the movie as obnoxious and ridiculously arrogant. In reality, Mark was said to be quite the opposite; often regarded as "shy" and "relatively modest" despite the handful of claims of him occasionally holding a Jerkass Ball ("" comes to mind).
    • However, as of Mark's testimony before the U.S. Congress in regards to Facebook's alleged unauthorized distribution of users' personal data in 2018, this may actually be subverted trope.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Largely averted, with some lapses. The hacking shown in-film is, as in real life, a process of reading code and trying out strategies based off of the security settings of the target. The character's progress through the Harvard databases is even shown through on-screen time markers to match up with what really happened in 2003. This sequence is lifted verbatim from Zuckerberg's diary and is thus very accurate. However, later in the film Zuckerberg tests potential interns with a hacking challenge, described with a burst of incoherent jargon, and to be performed while drinking shots in front of a cheering audience.
    • Zuckerberg's real diary was not on LiveJournal, but is depicted there in the film. Brad was amused. LiveJournal is depicted with a derivative of the Xcolibur site scheme, which did exist in 2003, although the default was still Dystopia. The page closely resembles the actual light version of update.bml though the movie version lacked LJ's actual automatic timestamping.
    • As noted under "Rashomon"-Style, the second example may be justified considering Eduardo (who knows little about computers) is recounting the story.
  • Honor Before Reason: Tyler and Divya want to sue Mark after they find out he started his own social network site. Cameron refuses to at first because they're "gentlemen of Harvard", which the others immediately scoff at.
  • Hypocrite:
    Mark: [after the opposing lawyer asks if he has Mark's full attention] I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have a right to give it a try, but there's no requirement I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention. You have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing something no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?
    • It probably offends Mark to no end that the Winklevoss twins lawsuit accusing him of stealing the basic idea of Facebook from them implies that Mark is not as clever or intelligent as he thinks he is.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The girl Sean was sleeping with in his introductory scene started to get angry when he jokingly pretended to have forgotten her name, but clearly didn't know his name given her surprise when he reveals that he's Sean Parker.
  • I Can't Feel My Legs: Played for laughs when Mark drags Eduardo outside in the freezing cold to talk about his early ideas for Facebook. When Eduardo says the line, Mark obliviously replies "I know, I'm totally psyched about this too."
  • Identical Twin ID Tags: The Winklevoss twin's hairstyle.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: At the start of the film, in his third line of dialogue, Mark Zuckerberg announces his motive: doing something noteworthy in a school full of thousands of incredibly smart people. Come the end, the film is hardly subtle in demonstrating the irony of a man (or man-boy) creating a revolutionary tool for connecting friends and in the process driving away his own.
    • Fittingly, the film's official trailer utilized a cover of Radiohead's "Creep", one of the most famous musical examples of this trope in history.
  • In Name Only: The film was marketed as an adaptation of Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires. However, Mezrich received a publishing deal based on a 14-page treatment he'd written before even starting work on the book, on the basis of which his publisher also sold the film rights. Sorkin expected that he would be asked to wait until the book's completion before starting work on the screenplay, but the film studio urged him to start work on it immediately, so the book and the screenplay were written concurrently and largely independently of one another, with occasional meetings between Mezrich and Sorkin (Sorkin himself only saw the final version of Mezrich's book after having nearly finished his screenplay). As such, the book and the film are very different from one another in terms of tone, style and pacing, and while both take significant liberties with the truth for dramatic effect, the liberties in question are very different in each case. Sorkin included a handful of direct references to Mezrich's book however (such as Cameron's reference to The Karate Kid, a direct quote).
  • Instant Web Hit: Mark Zuckerberg's site "Facemash", created while drunk, gets enough hits within a matter of hours to shut down the Harvard University servers. Truth in Television, as this actually happened, and is likely the most accurately-depicted event in the movie.
  • Internet Tough Guy: Erica accuses Mark of this.
    Erica: You write your snide bullshit in a dark room because that's what the angry do nowadays.
  • Inventor of the Mundane
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Mark answers a condescending question with a probably even more condescending question in his retort to the Winkelvoss' attorney.
  • Ironic Echo: Many subtle instances.
    • The first scene ends with a woman accusing Mark of being an asshole. The movie ends with a woman reassuring Mark he isn't an asshole, but he's trying hard to be one.
    • Mark claims he would bring Erica to final club events to help her meet a higher caliber of people. She seems to respond sincerely "You would do that for me?", but immediately breaks up with him, having considered his offer an insult. When the Winklevosses and Divya pitch the Harvard Connection project to Mark, they offer it as a chance to rehabilitate his image after He responds "You would do that for me?", and proceeds to create a similar website without them. Eduardo notes he does so because he found the idea that he'd need to rehabilitate his image insulting, since Facemash gave him the notoriety he wanted.
      • As to Mark assuring Erica that he'd introduce her to a better class of people, contrast their companies the next time they see each other: she's sipping wine and enjoying dinner and conversation with polite and intelligent-looking people, and he's just gotten a semi-anonymous blowjob in the men's room.
    • Mark and later Sean complain that the larger organizations they've upset don't "have a sense of humor." The latter says this when the two first meet, which seems to earn Mark's admiration and loyalty.
  • Irony: The entire movie is this. The creation of a social media behemoth that millions use to stay in touch with friends has its founders' friendships falling apart with every major character alienated from the others at the end of the story.
    • Erica's statement that Mark acts "as if every thought that tumbles through [his] head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared" mirrors a common complaint of Facebook (and also Twitter) detractors.
    • First scene has Mark telling Erica "I don't want to be friends." Final scene has Mark requesting her as a friend on Facebook and waiting for her to accept.
    • Mark's creating Facemash isn't exactly framed to put him in the best light, what with his objectifying women and joking about comparing them to farm animals, but it is intercut with a Phoenix Club party where women objectify themselves by dancing in their underwear for men, and are literally packed into buses and lined up to get in like herding cattle. Essentially, Mark's actions are still wrong, but it's not exactly like he's surrounded by good influences.
  • It's All About Me: Mark, full force. He sees everyone only for their use to him and is incapable of understanding why he should care about anyone else but himself. Shown tellingly when he angrily admonishes Eduardo for nearly destroying what he has been working on, before Eduardo corrects him with "we have been working on".
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Subverted, and that's kind of the point.
    Erica: Why do you keep saying I don't need to study?
    Mark: Because you go to BU!
    • Originally, Mark only intended the website to be for Harvard students, and then after that only to top-tier schools like Stanford.
  • Jail Bait: A recurring part of Sean's character is engaging in reckless behavior with likely underaged girls.
    • He sleeps with Amy and gets nervous about her age the morning after.
    • He has a glut of female interns doing drugs and partying in his California house, and says that it's "not polite to ask" their ages when Eduardo presses him on it before quickly changing the subject.
    • He gets into legal trouble for doing drugs with the interns.
  • Jerkass:
    • Even compared to the assholish things Mark did, Sean is a true jerk.
    • It is hypothesised by Marilyn regarding Mark in the final line of the film: She thinks he's not an asshole, but "[tries] so hard to be"). The audience, meanwhile, is left to reach their own conclusions.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While Sean is morally reprehensible, his business advice actually seems to work. Namely, while Eduardo is focused on trying to get advertisers for the site, Sean is more experienced in the tech industry and knows that the best way to maximize Facebook's value is to get venture capitalists like Peter Thiel to invest in the site and grow its user base to the millions before monetizing it with ads.
    • Larry Summers is openly dismissive and condescending of the Winkelvoss twins during their meeting, but he's right that another student stealing their business idea is more suited for suing him in court rather than asking the university president to do something about.
    • Eduardo is wary of Sean being involved with Facebook because of things he's researched and read about the latter in articles and voices his concerns to Mark. Mark points out that people could do research about Eduardo and come to the conclusion that he tortures birds because of The Crimson article.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: All of the Jewish Harvard students. The Jewish fraternity's party is pretty lame and filled with nerdy looking guys.
  • Kick the Dog: Sean handing Eduardo his paltry check to rub salt in his wounds after the company ditched him. It almost got him punched, and even Mark called him out on it.
  • Lack of Empathy: Mark, Mark, and did we perhaps mention Mark? Interestingly, he's seldom overtly malicious. It's just that he doesn't generally know or care about the damage he's causing. Even after his Heel Realization, it's still implied that he doesn't quite get it.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the final scene, Marilyn explains to Mark how easy it would be for her to win the cases against him. She doesn't have to prove anything — she just needs to ask the right questions so people will form their own answers regardless of what he says. This is very much the trick the film uses when it's making more serious implications about the actions of the characters, especially considering the varied and disputed accounts heard in the film. Did Mark steal Facebook? Did Mark try to cheat Eduardo out of Facebook, or leak the story about the chicken, or call the cops on Sean's party? Is he an asshole? Is he trying so hard to be? The film never outright answers anything, just gets you wondering...
  • Let's Just Be Friends: Erica tries going this route when breaking it off with Mark. When he replies that he doesn't want friends, she says she was just being polite and has no intention of actually staying friends with someone like him.
  • Lonely at the Top: Given that he's burned bridges with everyone close to him in his pursuit of maximizing Facebook, Mark is clearly not a happy man by the end. The final shot of the film is him alone, staring forlornly at a computer screen, with the text "Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in the world" appearing onscreen.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Mark's leitmotif "Hand Covers Bruise," played in scenes where he's either ruined a relationship or in the process of doing so. In an incredibly subtle metaphor for Mark's growing isolation, each successive version of the tune within the score was recorded with the microphone further and further away from the cabinet of the upright piano on which it was recorded.
  • Love Hurts: Erica breaking up with Mark, which led to the creation of Facebook.
  • Male Gaze: There are quite a few shots simply of attractive women walking away from the camera.
    • Particularly with Amy, whose one three-minute scene consists almost entirely of lingering shots of her butt in a pair of Stanford panties (to the point that she's just known as "Stanford" to many viewers). And, of course, one of these lingering shots was prominently featured in the trailer.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Sean is good at emotionally manipulating Mark into doing some things.
  • Manchild:
    • Sean. While he's not as bad as other examples, he's quite childish in the way he expresses himself.
    • Mark too has shades of this, albeit he is far smarter about expressing it. Many of his actions, such as slagging off his ex-girlfriend after she dumped him, are immature and other characters seem to be aware of how disturbing his personality is on a young adult. Hell, his dismissal of the Winklevoss twins' initial cease and desist letter threatening court action over Facebook - "They had an idea, I had a better one" - is not only flippant but incredibly childish.
  • Meta Casting: The co-founder of Napster, a site specializing in illegal downloading of music, is played by pop star Justin Timberlake; also, Parker is Famed in Story, and Timberlake is the biggest name in the cast.
    • Also, several members of the cast, including Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, and (ironically) Rooney Mara, come from the type of wealthy families the film's Mark Zuckerberg resents.
  • Metaphorgotten: When Sean compares Facebook's chance to get a billion-dollar valuation to a guy wanting to show off a 3000-pound marlin instead of 14 trout, Eduardo gets strung up in the implausibility of the existence of an actual marlin that heavy, let alone a man strong enough to lift it.
  • Mixed Metaphor:
    Sean: Ah ha. The shoe's on the other...
    Amy: Foot?
    Sean: ... table, which has turned.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: The trailer, which many consider to be the Trope Codifier, makes use of a children choir singing Radiohead's "Creep". Unlike most later examples, however, the original is not very upbeat.
  • Morality Pet: Eduardo and Erica are this to Mark.
  • Motor Mouth: Both Mark and to a greater degree, Sean. Eduardo even remarks that the latter must have set some sort of record. Of course, any Aaron Sorkin character at least comes close to this at some point; Fincher directed the actors to talk faster, as the script was a little too long.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Slightly downplayed with the Winklevosses' rowing finals against a Dutch club in the Henley Royal Regatta. Rowing isn't exactly super-mundane by itself, per se, but the compounding of direction, cinematography, and Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross' rendition of "In the Hall of Mountain King" make a seemingly simple scene one of the tensest and most exciting in the whole movie.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mark, after seeing Eduardo's breakdown in the office. He's so shaken that he can hardly celebrate when the Facebook member count rolls over into seven digits.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Mark, upon meeting the literally identical Winklevoss twins and hearing them introduce themselves under the same surname, asks if they're related. It's not clear if he's being serious, and their "Never Heard That One Before" is friendly enough that it's not clear if they're being serious, either.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Sean in particular has this problem, blaming the Winkelvoss twins and/or Manningham for planting the coke and calling the cops even though it's pretty clear Sean could have stopped the coke use and flushed it all if he really wanted to. He also doesn't seem to understand how record companies would be pissed to see you take money away from them, chalking it up to them not having a sense of humor. Most of the rest of the crew does this as well, blaming others when it's either partially or completely their own fault.
    • Mark has some of this too. He can't fathom why Harvard is angry that he hacked into their records and believes they should give him credit for pointing out flaws in their system. He also seems angry with Eduardo for suing him even though he brought it entirely on himself. His intro has him writing horrible things about his girlfriend after she dumped him for being a complete jerk to her, and he doesn't see his own culpability.
  • New Media Are Evil: Some reviewers have argued that this is one of the underlying messages of the film.
  • Nice Hat: Inverted. The hat that Eduardo wears during the "Caribbean Night" party was specifically chosen to be the dumbest hat the costume designers could find.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Erica Albright is a stand-in for Jessica Alona. Whether they were dating or or just friends has never been revealed.
  • No Social Skills: Mark. According to Marilyn the only reason they most likely can't win the case if they go to court is because Mark is just too mean and arrogant for the jury to sympathize with him.
  • Not Me This Time: Mark did lots of bad things, but planting the story about the chicken was not one of them... Maybe.
  • Oh, Crap!: Sean, when the cops break up the party at the end and catch him with cocaine, which leads to his being fired from the company.
  • Pet the Dog: No matter what happened, Mark seemed to genuinely appreciate Eduardo for his contributions ("I need you!") and even after their schism would apparently defended him on reputation destroying evidence his lawyers dug up. The biggest moment was Mark telling Sean that he went too far whilst kicking out Eduardo from the company. It's the only time in the film that he shows any sign of regret.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film deviates from what actually happened in Real Life (see Very Loosely Based on a True Story), but the overall film is more of a interpretive look at the events and people behind Facebook.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Eduardo earns the film's single F-bomb:
      Sean: Did you think we were going to let you parade around in your ridiculous suits pretending you were running this company?
      Eduardo: Sorry, my Prada's at the cleaners! Along with my hoodie and my "fuck you" flip-flops, you pretentious douchebag!
    • A similarly effective line comes when, upon hearing of Mark's expanding Facebook, Divya says that he wants the Sopranos to "beat the shit out of him with a hammer."
  • Power Trio: Tyler Winklevoss (Id), Cameron Winklevoss (Superego), and Divya Narendra (Ego)
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Sorkin specifically mentions this movie as the way he wrote the screenplay, though we never see the same events twice. Instead, it's subtly implied that segments of the film may be from the viewpoint of whichever party (Mark, Eduardo, or the Winklevoss twins) is currently testifying in the deposition Framing Device. To wit, this exchange after the Eduardo deposition:
    Mark: I'm not a bad guy.
    Marilyn: I know. Any time there's emotional testimony, I assume 85% of it is exaggerated.
    Mark: And the other 15%?
    Marilyn: Perjury.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Erica officially cuts her ties with Mark with a devastating one (see top page quote).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The main defining factor of the Winklevoss twins' dynamic. Tyler wants to take action to sue Mark immediately, while Cameron consistently has cold feet regarding the idea, being too concerned about their image as Harvard gentlemen.
  • Rule of Drama: Yes, the filmmakers have freely admitted to making scenes up and playing around with the date of events, but their purpose was to make a Citizen Kane-esque story of success-with-tragedy. The screenwriter's done this before.
    • Not to mention the final exchange between Mark and Marilyn casts doubt on the authenticity of the testimonies concerning Mark's alleged wrongdoings. The film is not trying to be a just-the-facts story of the minds behind Facebook, because some of those minds may not be telling the truth.
  • Scenery Porn: The amazing views of Harvard in winter can make a viewer wish he or she had studied a ludicrous amount and was born much, much richer. Ironically, a majority of the film was actually shot at Johns Hopkins University, as Harvard has refused most filming permits for decades. The crew was allowed to shoot at Harvard only for select, uncomplicated shots.
  • Self-Made Man: A Deconstructed Character Archetype, by depicting Zuckerberg achieving massive success and fortune but at the cost of his friends and relationships.
  • Sex Sells: Obviously, the "Stanford" butt shot just had to be in the trailer. Even if Amy (the girl the butt belongs to) is only in the movie for about three minutes.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: After Facebook starts taking off, Mark and Eduardo manage to hook up with two girls — essentially groupies — that end up fellating them in bathroom stalls. The most visual aid we receive is a shot of the stall doors gently rocking.
  • Shaped Like Itself: After Christy invites Eduardo and Mark to join her and Alice for a drink after the speech:
    Eduardo: She said, "Facebook me, and we can all go for a drink later." Which is stunningly great for two reasons. One, she said, "Facebook me," right? And then the other is, well, you know...
    Mark: They wanna have drinks later.
    Eduardo: Yes! Have you ever heard so many different good things packed into one regular-sized sentence?
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: The Winklevoss twins when they meet with President Summers. Lampshaded by Summers:
    President Summers: (on the phone) Catherine, I've got students in my office now...students...undergrads...don't know, but from the looks of it, they want to sell me a Brooks Brothers franchise.
  • Shiksa Goddess:
    Dustin: I'm developing an algorithm to define the connection between Jewish guys and Asian girls.
    Eduardo: I don't think it's that complicated. They're hot, they're smart, they're not Jewish and they can't dance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • This line, derived straight from the Mezrich book:
      Cameron Winklevoss: Like my brother and I are in skeleton costumes chasing the karate kid around a high school gym.
    • This line:
      Cameron: What, do you wanna hire an IP lawyer and sue [Mark]?
      —->Divya Narendra: No, I wanna hire the Sopranos to beat the shit out of him with a hammer.
    • The unidentified movie star at Harvard in 2003 was Natalie Portman, who was a consultant on the film.
    • During the scene where Eduardo finds out he's been accused of animal cruelty, Mark tells him he's created an alias account on Facebook to help him cheat on his final. Looking at Mark's computer shows the name he has decided on: Tyler Durden.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Sean Parker uses the metaphor of a fisherman having his photo taken with one big Marlin instead of 15 trout. Eduardo goes into all the technical details, like how much a Marlin could weigh in real life and how strong the fisherman would have to be, while an irate Mark tells him that he's missing the point.
  • Shown Their Work: Yes, this film does run on Rule of Drama, but the filmmakers do get a good amount of real-life details in there.
    • Once David Fincher discovered in his own research that Mark was actually drinking a specific brand of beer when he created Facemash, Fincher insisted on changing the drink for the movie (over Sorkin's protests). Of course, given Fincher's reputation as a perfectionist, this is to be expected.
    • Also, for a completely different campus dressed up using set decoration (a majority of filming for the Harvard scenes took place at Johns Hopkins University, due to Harvard's refusal to allow much filming on campus), they spent much care in trying to replicate the look and feel of Harvard.
    • The real Mark Zuckerberg, although he's been understandably quiet about his portrayal or the film's plot in general, has seen the film and has publicly expressed only a single comment about the movie's content: it was extremely accurate in its depiction of his wardrobe. Every pullover or T-shirt Zuckerberg is seen wearing is something that the real Mark Zuckerberg actually wore in college.
    • Larry Summers has confirmed that the scene in which he dismisses the Winklevosses is not too far from the truth, even going so far to as to call them a pair of "assholes".
    • Upon discovering that Mark Zuckerberg fenced through his personal research, Jesse Eisenberg based his posture on a fencer's.
    • In both depositions, many accuracies are noteworthy about how they're structured. In both cases, they're in conference rooms, with the defendant and his counsel on one side, and the plaintiff and his counsel on the other, and a court reporter with a special phoentic keyboard sitting at the head of the table. Much of the dialogue appears to be lifted directly from the depositions, as shown by an instance in the Winklevoss deposition where Zuckerberg's lawyer asks for a short break and at no point do any of the lawyers ask the court reporter to go "off the record" and stop taking down the dialogue.
  • Slash Fic: A lot. Most of it is, predictably, Mark/Eduardo.
  • Smug Snake: Eduardo very clearly considers Sean to be this. Sean seems to be a subversion of the trope though, as despite being a jerkass who does himself in eventually, his ideas about what direction to take Facebook are all correct from a business sense. To this end, Dustin Moskovitz said the following about the real-life Parker: "He deserves less credit for making Facebook what it is than he thinks he does, but more than anyone else thinks he does."
  • The Sociopath: Mark and Sean both get turned into examples. Mark is a bit worse given his seeming disdain for everyone around him though Sean nearly edges him out with his treatment of Eduardo.
  • Sorkin Relationship Moment: This time in a non-romantic friendship. Eduardo cutting off funds was framed in the film as him trying to get Mark to cut the crap and pay attention. (A little bit of a stretch, but possibly worth mentioning since the screenwriter is the Trope Namer.)
  • Speech-Centric Work: The screenplay's by Aaron Sorkin, what did you expect?
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Facebook starts out as The Facebook when it's created. Sean's the one to advise Mark to take out the "the" to make it "cleaner", and Eduardo credits it as his most important contribution to the company.
  • Spiritual Successor: The comparisons to Citizen Kane fit in that some critics noted that both films are about the tragic rise of the most powerful media mogul of their time (Kane being a thinly-veiled version of William Randolph Hearst).
  • Tag Team Twins: The Winklevosses.
    Tyler Winklevoss: I'm 6'5'', 220 [pounds], and there's TWO of me.
  • The Team Benefactor: Eduardo Saverin is the team member who repeatedly steps in with the cheque book before the money starts rolling in.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Mark considers himself both a technician and a performer in CS (in his "Do I have your full attention?" speech, he claims that some of the things he is doing with Facebook are things that no one else in the room is intellectually or creatively capable of doing). Eduardo's focus on playing the company safe and not taking any large financial risks places him more at the technician end of the scale, whereas Sean freely acknowledges he's more akin to a performer than a technician, which compensates for his lack of expertise.
    Sean (talking about Napster): It may not have been good business, but it pissed a lot of people off.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Mark's business card as Facebook CEO that simply reads "I'm CEO, bitch." Serves also as a stealth Ironic Echo.
    • The best part is that out of all the instances of artistic license in the story, this was one of the few outlandish elements that actually happened in real lifenote .
  • Took a Level in Badass: The somewhat passive Marylin effectively tells Mark what she thinks of him at the end.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The soundbite in the trailer of Mark being read his charges ("You are being accused of intentionally breaching security, violating copyrights, violating individual privacy...") gives the impression that he's being accused of doing all of this by making Facebook. It's actually the Harvard Ad Board referring to Facemash, an unrelated website that he created before Facebook.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: True, it's based on real events, but multiple events from the final act (the party; Eduardo's last scene; reaching 1,000,000 members on the website) are featured prominently as money shots in the trailer. It can leave a "that's it?" effect when the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue begins.
  • Truth in Television:
    • Those familiar with intercollegiate relations amongst Boston-area schools may find themselves seeing the standard stereotypes of those students quite easily in the characters. Since they get the most screen time, those familiar with the stereotypes of Harvard students find themselves feeling like they're really dealing with Harvard students while watching. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on which Harvard students you're familiar with.
    • Christy's overreaction to Eduardo not changing his relationship status is surprisingly similar to actual reactions based on Facebook settings.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Released in 2010 but set mostly in 2003; watch for clunkier old laptops, out of date web interfaces and operating systems, and way too many North Face jackets.
  • Twofer Token Minority: In-universe - Eduardo, trying not to get his hopes up too soon, suggests that he only got punched by the Phoenix for diversity purposes (Eduardo is both Jewish and half-Brazilian), and Mark snidely agrees with him.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Mark and Sean both believed they could get away with forcing Eduardo out of the company without any consequences... only to have Eduardo file a lawsuit against them. Similarly, Mark blithely ignored the Winklevoss twins attempts to do things nicely with their cease and desist efforts, fully convinced they didn't have the guts to take him to court. Boy was he wrong...
  • The Un-Reveal: During the deposition scenes, Divya mentions that after Facebook was launched, "Mark was the biggest thing on a campus that included 19 Nobel Laureates, 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians (the Winkelvoss twins) and a movie star." Mark's lawyer asks who the movie star was, but Divya says it doesn't matter. For those wondering, the movie star was Natalie Portman.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Many of those depicted have spoken about how inaccurate they felt the film was. Zuckerberg, for instance, did break up with his girlfriend and create Facemash, but she was not really a motivating factor for the creation of Facebook, as in the movie. Sorkin openly acknowledged that the film is not accurate, saying: "I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling."
    • included guys of Harvard, not just women.
    • Examined more seriously here.
    • And another serious article.
    • Perhaps most egregiously, Mark Zuckerberg actually had a girlfriend during most of the events depicted in the film. Her name is Priscilla Chan, and they've been together since 2003, marrying in 2012. Much of the movie hinges on depicting Mark as a lonely nerd who never got over losing his college girlfriend.
  • Villainous BSoD: Mark does when on the phone with Eduardo, and Sean gives a somewhat calm but clearly shaky one speaking on the phone with Mark during his arrest.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It's a subtle detail, but a recurring trait of Eduardo's is his longing for acceptance from his father.
    • When he first receives the title of "Co-Founder and CFO" of Facebook, he beams about how much it'll mean to his father.
    • When he is accused of animal cruelty, he only casually notes having to resolve things with various animal rights groups and the associate dean of Harvard, but speaks about having to explain the situation to his father with a great anxiety.
    • After Mark and Eduardo's friendship falls apart, Eduardo glumly states that his father won't even look at him now.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Mark and Eduardo were good friends as they worked together to make Facebook. When Mark kicks Eduardo out of the company, things go downhill.
  • Wham Line: Played with when Eduardo reveals just how much his shares in the company were diluted down to. Before he give her a number, he responds to his lawyer asking what percentage of the other Facebook heads' salaries was deducted when the company expanded with an increasingly frustrated "It wasn't," slowly revealing that he was budgeted out of his own company, but it turns out to be the wind-up to the reveal of just how devastatingly little he was left with.
    ".03 percent."
  • What You Are in the Dark: Erica compares Mark's online insults to this.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the deposition with Eduardo is over, Marilyn asks Mark what happened to Sean after he was kicked out of Facebook following his arrest. Mark tells her he still owns 5% of the company.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Presented in text-only over the final shot, disclosing what became of the Winkelvoss twins, Eduardo, and Mark, as well as detailing Facebook's growth since the events depicted in the movie.
  • Woman Scorned: Christy.
    • Also, Mark's behavior after Erica dumps him is an inversion of the trope usually applying to females.
  • World of Snark: The screenplay's by Aaron Sorkin, what did you expect?
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Mark may or may not have pulled this on Sean, by possibly calling the cops on Sean's party, thus creating a situation where Sean would have to be fired to avoid embarassing the company.
    • He also essentially did this to Eduardo when he diluted Eduardo's stake in Facebook down to a pittance.
  • Younger Than They Look: Discussed briefly for laughs.
    Amy: Where did you go to school?
    Sean: William Taft Elementary for a little while.
    Amy: Seriously? You’re not like 15 years old or anything, are you?
    Sean: No. (beat) Wait, you're not like 15, are you?

"You're not an asshole, Mark. You just try so hard to be."

Video Example(s):


The Social Network

An intense scene in the film where Zuckerberg responds to the lawyers condescending question with some brutal honesty.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / InsufferableGenius

Media sources:

Main / InsufferableGenius