I joined Facebook just a few months after it opened up to the general public. I was aware that Mark Zuckerberg created it when he was in university, and that it was originally restricted to university students. Other than that, I knew next to nothing about how it came to be or the story behind its explosive growth, so I was eager to watch The Social Network, especially after it was strongly recommended by a relative who has never even been on Facebook.
Books don’t seem to get as much media attention as movies, and when I sat down to watch The Social Network, I was surprised to learn that it was based on a book called The Accidental Billionaires. Not that it’s a secret, especially now that Aaron Sorkin has won the Oscar for ”Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.”
The Social Network answered a lot of questions I had in my mind, and then some. For example, before watching it, I had no idea that one of the co-founders of Napster was involved, and found the whole story quite fascinating.
Despite the fact that the movie was both entertaining and informative, I found myself wishing that the story was presented in chronological order rather than jumping back and forth in time, so I decided to read the book, hoping it would be easier to get the big picture. I was not disappointed.
Although it’s a fairly light and easy read, The Accidental Billionaires includes a lot more detail than The Social Network. That, combined with the chronological narration, gave me a much deeper understanding of the actual events. Furthermore, I feel the book is a more accurate portrayal. The Author’s Note at the beginning reads as follows:
The Accidental Billionaires is a dramatic, narrative account based on dozens of interviews, hundreds of sources, and thousands of pages of documents, including records from several court proceedings.
A few things are presented differently in the movie, which I’m sure the film makers did for entertainment value. Don’t get me wrong; The Social Network is great, and I’d recommend it to anyone. But if you want to know the whole scoop (or as much as is possible without direct input from the parties involved), you should read The Accidental Billionaires.