“The Social Network,” a fascinating, caustic movie about Mark Zuckerberg and his “friends” who launched Facebook, continues raising social networking privacy issues.
When I first saw the movie, I watched several people in the theater playing with their phones. I wasn’t sure if they were viewing Facebook but I imagined it so. I had a vision of new media mobiles connecting with friends, writing on Facebook walls, forwarding photos, sending pokes.
I saw mobile phone users surfing the Web in a traditional media venue (a theater), getting ready to watch a flick about social networking privacy. On the same day the film launched, Facebook had a 5-in-1 stock split and Zuckerberg donated $100M on Ophrah to the New Jersey school system. Very strange indeed.
Social Networking Privacy Issues Emerge in Movie
While watching “The Social Network,” I soon realized the absence of cell phones. Andrew Garfield, who plays Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s’ first CFO and Co-founder, used a Sony Ericsson p910. Jesse Eisenberg, stuck in the role of Mark Zuckerberg, used flip phones–ancient mobile devices–circa 2003-2004. No smartphones. No apps. Web surfing at EDGE speeds. Everyone logging into the social site with personal computers vs. 50% worldwide today.
What’s most fascinating about the movie is not the socially-repressed Zuckerberg or the litigation to control Facebook. It’s how quickly students at Harvard, later Stanford, other universities, then the world became willing to reveal private information about their lives raising social networking privacy issues. At one point, Edwardo’s girlfriend becomes angry with him for not updating his “relationship status” on the site. He tells her he hadn’t changed his profile yet.
But it goes beyond privacy to obsession. In one scene Justin Timberlake, who plays Napster entrepreneur Sean Parker, is talking with his girlfriend when she blurts out her addiction to Facebook, saying she spends over six hours a day on the site. Six hours? Few, if any, devoted Richard Wagner fans would spend six hours in an opera house.
Somehow new media, such as social networking, has caused millions of people to share their innermost thoughts and secrets. Information that once was only shared with a few friends is now freely shared on the Internet.
If anything, the movie points out the hunger of people around the world to share personal information online. But all social media users should consider what and how they share information and the need to control social networking privacy.