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The Social Network

The Social Network

Can Mark Zuckerberg sue?


November 2010

It’s a harsh portrait of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. But is it defamatory?

The smoking gun is a sequence of events leading to Facebook’s birth, as Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss hire Zuckerberg to build a social-networking site, only for him to create Facebook.

“If you say that someone stole an idea, that is clearly defamatory of him,” says Niri Shan, head of media law at UK firm Taylor Wessing. Yet any claim by Zuckerberg in America would give unbridled scope to rifle through his records, which may explain why he never took action against Ben Mezrich’s book.

“A false privacy action would be a clever claim because whether it’s true or not is not the issue,” says Shan.

Depicting sexual acts would be the fuel Zuckerberg needs, but Sorkin’s been clever: the only liaison occurs when he and Eduardo Saverin get off with cuties in adjacent toilets; Zuckerberg’s flip-flops are seen under the divider, leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks.

Thus The Social Network looks likely to avoid the tag: The Film Zuckerberg Tried To Ban…

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