It's been out in theatres for about a week now, and the movie is getting good reviews from critics and bringing in the revenue.
If you are unfamiliar with the film, it is sorta-kinda-based-on-the-true-story of how Mark Zuckerberg, creator and CEO of Facebook, began his once tiny "social network" that has now exploded into one of the most widely visited website on the internet. No small feat.
However, the movie portrays Facebook's founder in a not-so-positive light, with his character being accused of everything from thievery to an insatiable desire for power, which is brought on by extreme envy.
Zuckerberg calls the movie "fiction," and while the lines spoken are definitely that, there is plenty of evidence to support how the movie portrays Facebook's head honcho.
On the eve of the film's release, Zuckerberg went on Oprah to announce that he is giving $100 million to Newark, New Jersey public schools in efforts to put technology in the hands of as many students as possible.
Quite obviously, that is a lot of money.
And it is enough to definitively change the lives of many, many young people in that area.
The charitable donation is a good thing for the youth of Newark, no doubt about it.
But many are skeptical about the timing of the donation, seeing the donation as a way to smooth over the waves caused by his portrayal in The Social Network:
"You can't help but be skeptical of the timing," said Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief of the social media blog Mashable. "Making a huge donation on the eve of the movie coming out, you'd have to think that Facebook was trying in some way to change the public's perception of Zuckerberg. For many people, especially those not in the tech community who are familiar with the Facebook back story and the controversy of how it started, 'The Social Network' movie is going to be their first exposure to the back story of Facebook and its beginning."So, my question to you, friends of Modest Needs: Does it matter? Do you care that Zuckerberg's substantial (to say the least) donation to public schools might be a shrewd PR move? Does it make the impact of that money any less effective? And does the donation change your opinion of the Facebook CEO?
"That being said, it is a generous gift and the cause he picked makes sense," he said. "When you think about empowering young people with technology, I think this makes a lot of sense in terms of giving back to the community that Facebook ultimately serves and it will continue to serve as people get online for the first time."
And public relations experts say that shoring up public support before taking a potential PR hit is a smart strategy.
Personally speaking, I don't think the young people of Newark will mind one bit if their new funds came because the donor might want to enhance his image. The money is still going to get them farther ahead than they would have gotten without it. And aren't many enormous charitable contributions given to improve the donor's image? It would be naive to say that they are not.
If you have seen the movie, or even if you haven't, I would love to have you weigh in on whether the timing or rationale behind Zuckerberg's donation makes a difference in your eyes. And if it changes your impression of one the internet's most powerful people.[Photo by Andrew Feinberg]