The Social Network – Blue’s Beats #9

Blue’s Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.


Today we’ll be taking a look at the 2010 American drama The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher. The film won numerous Academy Awards, including the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

To view a .pdf of the screenplay, click here


We all know it by now, right? It’s the story of the founding of Facebook. It’s a story that’s a mired in pop culture as you can get. It’s the story of how the world’s youngest billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, developed the fledgling corporation and, despite numerous lawsuits and claims of intellectual theft, managed to turn it into an international powerhouse. Though the story of Facebook is a thoroughly modern tale, it incorporates age-old themes like betrayal, class, sex, revenge, and pettiness.


(Pages 1-15) When 19-year-old Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend, he spitefully posts about her audaciousness on his LiveJournal, then takes it one step further by creating the joke-website Facemash, which allows users to rate the attractiveness of Harvard’s female students. The site garners inexplicable popularity and attracts the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who invite Zuckerberg to work on their own social network, Harvard Connection.


(Pages 55-65) Zuckerberg agrees to the Winklevoss’s proposal, but goes behind their back, with the held of his friend turned financier, Eduardo Saverin, to create his own, similar social network which he tentatively names Thefacebook. Outraged by Zuckerberg’s underhanded dealings, the Winklevoss twins voice their grievances to Harvard President Larry Summers, who proves to be unwilling to mediate.


(Pages 120-130) Prompted by the growing popularity of Thefacebook, Zuckerberg extends operations to other Ivy League schools, including Yale, Colombia, and Stanford. Eventually, the site attracts the attention of Napster founder Sean Parker, who shares his vision for Thefacebook with Zuckerberg. Impressed with Parker’s proposition, Zuckerberg ultimately moves his base of operations to Palo Alto, and also drops changes the site’s name to the more streamlined and recognizable Facebook.


(Pages 145-155) When the Winklevoss twins discover that Facebook has spread to Oxford, the file a lawsuit against Zuckerberg for theft of intellectual property. At the same time, Zuckerberg’s relationship with Saverin becomes increasingly strained, as Saverin freezes the company’s account after voicing his displeasure with Parker’s continuance in making business decisions for Facebook. Eventually, Saverin relinquishes his hold on the accounts when Zuckerberg reveals that and Angel Investor has offered the company $500,000 to expand its operations. What Zuckerberg fails to mention, however, is that the new business deal stipulates that the worth of Saverin’s shares in the company will be diluted from 38% to 0.03%—a development which will not effect any of the other shareholders.


(Pages 155-160) Scenes from the final deposition sequence are intercut throughout the film in order to build a sense of tension as Zuckerberg is beset on all sides by lawsuits and betrayal. On one hand, the Winklevoss twins claim that Zuckerberg stole the initial idea for Facebook while, on the other, Saverin claims that his shares in the company were unfairly and punitively diluted. Finally, Zuckerberg’s attorney advises that they settle with both parties out of court, as Zuckerberg’s callous, aloof, and perhaps contemptuous attitude will be received poorly by a jury.


(Page 161) A short sequence of title cards provide all the exposition the film needs, effectively tying up the dangling plot threads. In this epilogue, we learn that the Winklevoss twins received $65 million while Saverin received an undisclosed sum, and has subsequently returned to the site’s masthead as co-founder. It goes on to say that Facebook has since attracted the patronage of upwards of 500 million users in 207 countries, and is likewise worth upwards of $25 million.