The Social Network was a beautiful and well-made film, said Sean Parker, who is depicted by Justin Timberlake in the movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook.
The film won Best Picture in the Golden Globe awards and it may very well win an Oscar. But Parker (who founded companies such as Napster, Plaxo, and Causes) said he believes the depiction of his role in the founding of Facebook was a “complete work of fiction.”
Parker’s comments, made today in a conversation with novelist and social media expert Paolo Coelho at the Digital Life Design conference today in Munich, are significant because, while Zuckerberg and others have said they weren’t accurately depicted in the film, Parker has been relatively silent on the issue to date.
With 600 million Facebook users trusting the company with a lot of personal information, the character of its founders has come under quite a bit of scrutiny.
Parker said his life was over-glamorized in the movie. He also said the film inaccurately describes how he treated Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin.
Parker didn’t address facts in the film, which is based on the best-selling Ben Mezrich fictionalized book, The Accidental Billionaires. He didn’t, for instance, offer comment about getting caught at a party where alleged drug abuse was happening among minors. On a more frivolous note, he did mention that, while the characters in the movie get to party with Victoria’s Secret models, Facebook’s founders didn’t. “There are no Victoria’s Secret models in Silicon Valley,” he said.
Parker was booted out of Facebook early on, but he gets credit for enabling Zuckerberg to retain control of Facebook even as he raised money from venture firms. With Coelho, he said that he likes to start new platforms, but isn’t sure if they create an extremely powerful company or not. He noted, for instance, that platforms have to be neutral toward content or they become weaker and get less universal support. The way it really should be, he argued, is that power should reside with the content owners.
“This begs the question: is Zuck the most powerful person in the world, or does neutrality limit his power?” Parker asked. “At end of the day, the power is still held by those creating content. … To change people’s minds, you still have to say something.”
Disclosure: DLD paid for my trip to Munich, where I am moderating a panel. VentureBeat maintains that our coverage remains objective and independent.