Before the movie The Social Network premiered, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, rarely did any media. Now, after the movie came out portraying him in an unfavorable light, he has been forced to show the world who he is by finally coming into the spotlight.
Before 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was best known for being a young billionaire who founded the fortuitously famous Facebook while he was still in Harvard. Most marveled at his story and enjoyed his product so much, they thought nothing of the CEO. In fact, Zuckerberg was known for being, “notoriously tight-lipped,” according to an article from Wired.com about a public interview he did in 2008, where the interviewer walked-away, again, with nothing new about Zuckerberg’s personal life.
Then, a book-turned-movie came out revealing a ruthless and pompous side of Mark Zuckerberg. The Social Network is based on the 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. When Mezrich was writing the book he tried reaching out to Zuckerberg multiple times, only to be rebuffed. However, Mezrich found someone else to get his information from, the co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin. According to an article by The New Yorker in 2010, “The book draws heavily on interviews that Mezrich conducted with Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s initial business manager, who had a falling out with Zuckerberg and sued him. Mezrich did not talk to Zuckerberg.” The producer of The Social Network, Scott Rudin, also tried to talk to Zuckerberg, but was once again denied the elusive interview.
The Social Network portrayed Zuckerberg as pompous and arrogant who used Facebook as a way to get girls and get famous. He tried to remain silent about the movie, but after articles from The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post came out criticizing Zuckerberg even for donating money to a charity, he finally spoke out. In an interview at StartUp School in 2010 at Stanford he remarked about what the film got wrong, “The thing that I think is actually most thematically interesting that they got wrong is the whole framing of the movie.” He added, “They frame it as if the whole reason for making Facebook and building something was because I wanted to get girls.” He jokingly referred to what the film got right where his clothes, “Every single shirt and fleece that I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own,” Zuckerberg said.
Since The Social Network got Zuckerberg to open up a little more about his private life, he has been granting more interviews and been more visible in the media. For Facebook’s 10th anniversary, he granted an interview to Bloomberg Businessweek opening up about his plans, personally and professionally, for the future. He also went on TV at USA Today, to speak of his plans for Facebook down the line and taking a fond look back at the past. Recently, he posted his #ASLIceBucketChallenge on Facebook and challenged other tech titans like Bill Gates.
Along with allowing more interviews, the media and public has been privy to an important person in Zuckerberg’s life, Priscilla Chan. Chan is Zuckerberg’s wife who he started dating before Facebook was invented. Chan has added another charming aspect to Zuckerberg’s media presence. She granted her first interview to USA Today in May of 2014, during the interview she made a request of the public, “I think it’s a shame when people don’t see the funny, thoughtful Mark that I know,” she said. “He is incredibly sensitive and really cares about what other people need and want and really wants to be able to make someone else’s day. And that’s the Mark that I see.”
Zuckerberg, like many other young and wildly successful people out there, captures not only the attention, but also the imagination of the media and public. In a way, it’s appropriate that Zuckerberg continues to only show what he wants to show to the media. Facebook allows all of its users to portray only those aspects of their life they want others to see, from pictures to status updates; Facebook can make anyone’s life seem as fabulous or hopeless as they want. Even though Zuckerberg has continued to be more public since The Social Network came out in 2010, he still remains relatively private. You could say Zuckerberg’s public profile, is set to a semi-private setting.