Most people are familiar with the founding story of Facebook from The Social Network (2010) — or at least the one told by director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other early employees have distanced themselves from the film, calling it fiction, but many important elements from the movie are actually true.
After breaking up with his girlfriend, Zuckerberg created a website called Facesmash to rate the attractiveness of Harvard girls, which was shut down a few hours later because it pulled an enormous amount of traffic. The administration reprimanded him and many campus groups were outraged. After the stunt, the Winklevoss twins approached him with a dating website proposal. Zuckerberg agreed to help build the site for them, but built Thefacebook.com instead. The twins eventually settled their lawsuit against Zuckerberg for approximately $65 million.
Eduardo Saverin actually was was a member of the Phoenix, a finals club at Harvard, but was not involved with chicken cannibalism. When Zuckerberg and others ousted Saverin from the CFO position, diluting his share from 34.4 percent to below 10 percent, he sued the company and later reached a settlement. He did indeed freeze the company account at one point.
Sean Parker hated his portrayal as a party-boy in the movie. He did in fact approach Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook, meet him in New York, and then later run into him on the streets of Palo Alto a year later. Zuckerberg invited him to join the company as President. A year and a half later, the board of directors pressured him to resign after he was arrested on cocaine charges.
Co-founders Dustin Muskovitz and Chris Hughes, along with other early employees, played a big part in building the company but were barely featured in the film. Fun fact: Zuckerberg was high-school roommates at Phillips Exeter Academy with Adam D’Angelo, Facebook’s first CTO and eventual Quora founder. They built a plug-in called Synapse as a final school project and were offered $2 million for the software, which they turned down, and uploaded it to the internet for free.