Facebook doesn't just rule the Internet -- it rules the movie theaters, too. At least for now, with the movie about its inception raking in $23 million over the weekend. Critical response has been overwhelmingly positive, and that's buoyed audience interest.
Harvard law professor and activist Lawrence Lessig is a little dismayed, calling it "wonderful entertainment" but also "kind of evil."
Among Lessig's complaints: director David Fincher fundamentally doesn't understand the Internet, a fact that Fincher readily admits. And while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg deserves credit for inventing Facebook, Lessig says, the real credit should go to the people who made that invention possible. In other words, the people who built the Internet.
With most businesses, Lessig goes on, executives have to secure deals with a variety of other companies to make their own initiative a success. A juice company, for example, needs to coordinate with plants and distributers and stores. But that's not the case with an online business like Facebook, which can simply launch on its own without depending on cooperation from any other organization.
And that's what makes the open Internet the hero of the film, Lessig says. By making the entire platform available to anyone who wants it, it makes innovations like Facebook possible. That openness may be short lived, with corporations battling to seize control of the web by killing net neutrality.
For now, the tragedy of the film is that it glosses over this fact, celebrating Zuckerberg rather than the Internet.