It’s a shame Jesse Eisenberg never signed up to Facebook

On the 10th anniversary of The Social Network, we ask the actor for his thoughts on technology, Hollywood and Zuck’s decas horribilis

Why is it a shame Jesse Eisenberg never got Facebook? Because Facebook sees everything. Hell, Facebook remembers everything, too, which is even scarier when you think about it. Every post you make. Every photo you take. Every person who accepts every friend request you send. And it stores all of this information in a neat little feature called, rather nostalgically and not sinisterly at all; ‘Memories’.

And then, every day if you ask it too, your little blue app will take a digital deep dive back along your timeline and dredge up some embarrassing, depressing or just incredibly mundane titbit from your past to show you.

Although Jesse Eisenberg’s Facebook Memories wouldn’t be boring at all — especially not this year. If Jesse Eisenberg was on Facebook, he’d be getting constant notifications at the moment. And that’s because, a decade ago this year, The Social Network was released.

Of course, Eisenberg doesn’t have Facebook — most of the headlines that surrounded the film’s 2010 release told us as much. But why? At the time, the man who played Mark Zuckerberg so masterfully gave several explanations. He was too self-loathing for it, he said in one interview. Technology, try as he might, just didn’t seem to like him, he revealed in another. He had little interest in talking about himself, he shrugged in a third.

Today, almost a decade to the day since we first saw The Social Network’s iconic ‘words-on-face’ poster, Eisenberg offers me another reason. “I don’t have social media accounts,” he says, “because my life already feels far too public.”

And publicity seems to be a problem for the actor. He openly admits that, even after this interview; “I will feel immediately embarrassed that I divulged so much about myself.”

But he shouldn’t worry. Eisenberg, like Zuckerberg, is something of a closed book. He never lets too much emotion escape. He doesn’t even seem bothered that The Social Network, the only Oscar-nominated performance of his career so far, is 10-years-old this year. He does, however — and somewhat surprisingly — remain open to the prospect of a sequel. Last year, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin admitted that there was now enough new material to start writing an official sequel. Eisenberg agreed, but also admitted that no plans have been made.

“I’m not aware of either the project,” he elaborated when asked about a sequel, “or even the current controversy of the company.”

That seems hard to believe. Not about the sequel — but rather the scandals. Because you don’t have to be on Facebook to know that it is a contentious brand. The social network is juggling so many offences and improprieties these days that it can be hard to know which to focus on and, since the David Fincher-directed origin story was released ten years ago, Mark Zuckerberg has had something of a decas horribilis.

The man behind Facebook was named Time’s Person of the Year in 2010, seven years after first launching the site. In 2012, he bought Instagram for $1 billion, and the company went public. But, just one year later, things started to falter when a hacker very publicly accessed Zuckerberg’s personal account. In 2014, it was revealed that Facebook had been conducting psychological tests on 70,000 unconsenting participants. And, in 2016, the brand’s content policies came under scrutiny when Facebook was caught up in the fake-news-fuelled US Presidential election.

By 2018, things were starting to settle down — but then the big scandal broke. Headlines around the world told the story of Cambridge Analytica, revealing how the data-analytics firm had improperly obtained data from tens of millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg had to stand up in front of Congress — Eisenberg “just watched a little bit” of the testimony — and Facebook were given a record-breaking $5 billion rap on the knuckles.

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