By Rakesh Raman
In The Social Network film, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have tried to depict the moment at which Facebook, the world’s leading social hangout on the Net, was created.
The film will be released in the U.S. tomorrow, Oct. 1.
It’s believed that Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s decision a week ago to create a $100 Million Foundation — Startup: Education was to pull out some last-minute publicity for the movie, and, thus, for himself. (Read: Facebook Chief Zuckerberg Forms $100M Foundation)
Surprisingly, the film is being promoted with the tagline: You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.
Is it 500 million? Who knows! Although Facebook seems to be the biggest online social network (others are MySpace, Orkut, etc.), its claims of having over 500 million active users are largely exaggerated. There’s a marked difference between the rhetoric and reality.
In fact, Facebook’s definition of ‘active users’ – users who returned to the site in the last 30 days – is too shaky. Logging into a free site once in a month can’t be termed as activeness. And even if they’re logged in, most are not doing any social networking except some one-to-one chat or game-playing, which has nothing to do with Facebook as a “social utility.”
Actually, the active users are not even a fraction of the number that Facebook quotes. People join the network just because it’s free and then simply disappear. It’s, in fact, a herd phenomenon on the Net.
So the basic premise of the movie makers is under question. And why do you want to trust a hype-laden company, which is still in secretive private hands – and then make a movie on it to further confuse the consumers?
While there’s a big question mark on Facebook’s business model and its revenues – and even its future – it is largely surviving on external investors’ money, and has not yet gone public.
In addition to other private investors, Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies and software major Microsoft have bought Facebook slivers. While Digital Sky has invested $200 million, Microsoft pumped in $240 million in Facebook about two years ago, And returns? God knows!
Advertisers are still not quite eager to promote their brands through big paid campaigns on Facebook. Either some trivial ads appear or companies come through free pages that Facebook offers.
The reason for advertisers’ aversion to Facebook is mainly the absence of quality consumers on the network. Most users who hang out on Facebook seem to have come from some strange world.
While some of them keep sitting on the network for hours at a stretch, there’s hardly any networking among them. Looking at these inactive squatters, sometimes you feel lost in a kinda vast digital zombieland. (Read: 5 Reasons I Love My Facebook Friends)
It’s observed that among the current categories of Facebook users are idle housewives, retired people, study-averse students, jobless pros, and shirkers in offices. They use Facebook for some freewheeling chat and amateur, meaningless messaging. It’d be nothing but foolishness to expect such users to care for any ads. (Read: But Why Don’t You Pay for Using Facebook?)
So what has inspired the film fraternity to make a movie on such an ordinary venture in the tech world, which is otherwise full of major success stories?
It’s still anybody’s guess what this social network is trying to do. While Facebook wants to connect its users with their families and friends, it’s inadvertently promoting an uncivilized culture, as its use has reached a level of addiction where family members are neglecting their responsibilities, students their studies, and workers their duties. (Read: 10 Deadly FAD Symptoms)
But the show must go on. The film makers say Jesse Eisenberg will play Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the film being presented by Columbia Pictures. It is based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich.
The movie on the social network may succeed to attract some crowds in the theaters, but the social networking concept has yet to find its feet in the online world.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and pray that the sequel to The Social Network is not The Demise of the Social Network.