ADOTAS – Never afraid of employing sensationalism, The New York Post titles its interview with Tyler Winklevoss — of the Facebook-suing Winklevosses — “Facebook’s Worst Enemies.” Wait a second, I thought that was Paul Ceglia, who claims to own 84% of the social network? It’s hard getting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s enemies straight — he should consider making a list like Richard Nixon.
The Winklevoss twins — who tower from the height of six feet five inches and were members of the 2008 Olympic rowing team — are getting the celluloid treatment in Facebook movie “The Social Network.” Tyler’s version of events is simple: while at Harvard University, Divya Narendra, Tyler and his brother Cameron approached code jockey Zuckerberg to underwrite their “Harvard Connection” social network. After verbally agreeing, Zuck blew them off and created competitor “The Facebook,” which morphed into the 500 million-member Facebook of today.
Facebook settled with the Winklevosses for $65 million in 2009 — the settlement proceeding opens the movie — but now they want more money, arguing that Zuck’s team misled them about the value of the company.
Supposedly the movie paints the twins as all-American boys used and abused by the scheming Zuck, and the interview is certainly fawning (the twins are described as “the East Coast’s most fascinating eligible bachelors”), but this quote from Tyler really stood out to me, especially on the heels of a well-balanced profile in The New Yorker:
“Mark Zuckerberg is a guy who wants to change privacy. He wants to create a more transparent world, and yet he remains, and Facebook remains one of the least transparent companies….”
MySpace cofounder Chris DeWolfe’s promiscuity was the stuff of legend in Silicon Valley gossip, but prudish MySpacers didn’t leave the site because of that. It was an issue of functionality and disgust with belly-fat ads.
But is Facebook different? As Mark Zuckerberg’s skeletons keep emerging from the closet, will it alienate users? Will they feel like Zuck and Facebook the company have misrepresented themselves? For a company that is constantly saying “Trust us!” in regards to user data, its leaders keep coming off as shady.
Worse for revenue, will the festering negative sentiment against Facebook make major advertisers think twice about large marketing campaigns? Especially when a revamped Twitter is looking quite appetizing….
So many questions and, even though Internet lifecycles travel at warp speed, the answers seem so far away. “The Social Network” is opening the New York Film Festival next week and appears in theaters nationwide on Oct. 1.