Social Network, The

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Short takes

Not suitable under 14; parental guidance to 14 (drug and alcohol use, sexual references, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Social Network, The
  • a review of Social Network, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 October 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not suitable due to drug and alcohol use, sexual references and coarse language.
Children aged 14 Parental guidance recommended due to drug and alcohol use, sexual references and coarse language.
Children aged 15 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Social Network, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language
Length: 120 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film’s main story is presented through a series of flashbacks as seen through the eyes of various witnesses giving evidence in a civil court proceeding.

In the autumn of 2003 Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a computer genius in his sophomore year at Harvard University and is on a quest to “do something substantial” that will gain the attention of Harvard’s elite. While drunk in his dorm room one night, Mark hacks into secure Harvard university files, steals student ID photos and then creates an on-line game that rates Harvard’s female students in terms of their “hotness”. As a result of his actions Mark receives a degree of fame and notoriety, and before long is approached by Harvard seniors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer). The Winklevoss twins have an idea for developing a social network for Harvard students and seek Mark’s assistance. However, instead of developing a social network system for the Winklevoss brothers, Mark and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) develop and launch their own network called “the facebook”, which quickly spreads from Harvard to a number of other elite universities across the country, attracting the interest of Napster creator, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

As his social network becomes the globally recognised Facebook, Zuckerberg is sued by the Winklevoss brothers for stealing their idea and by Eduardo, who believes he has not received full recognition and payment for his role in the network’s creation


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Computer hacking; online social networks; relationships; greed

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The Social Network contains occasional low-level physical violence and some psychological violence enacted via the internet. Examples include:

  • Mark Zuckerberg humiliates his ex-girlfriend on-line by referring to her in degrading and unfavourable terms.
  • During a Harvard student initiation ceremony, students standing in the snow are told to take off various pieces of clothing.  Some students end up in underwear and we see one of them vomiting.
  • We hear that Eduardo was accused of animal cruelty after carrying a chicken around for a week and feeding it cooked chicken.
  • A woman sets a scarf on fire and places it into a waste paper bin on a young man’s bed. He extinguishes the fire with a fire extinguisher.
  • Eduardo, in a rage, walks up to Zuckerberg who is sitting at a desk, smashes his laptop down onto the desk and verbally abuses him.
  • Eduardo shouts at Sean Parker and attempts to punch him.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

No additional material

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

No additional material

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

No additional material

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

No additional material

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Facebook itself
  • Play Station gaming consoles
  • laptop computers
  • a variety of brand name alcohol (beers and spirits)

Sexual references

The Social Network contained a number of sexual references. Examples include:

  • We hear reference made to a bus being sent around to pick up girls for college boys and see a bus full of young women..
  • Zuckerman discusses an on-line game that rates young woman in terms of their “hotness” and also a version that compares women to farm animals.
  • Zuckerberg accuses his girlfriend of only being allowed to gain entrance to a bar because she slept with the doorman.
  • Zuckerberg makes sarcastic and spiteful reference to his ex-girlfriend’s breast size which he then blogs. Later we see her upset when she sees the blog and is taunted by two men holding up a bra in front of her.
  • A young man talks about being attracted to Asian girls who he describes as being “hot”.
  • A young woman exclaims in a surprised manner “I just slept with Sean Parker?” with Sean responding with “You slept on Sean Parker” and then asking her if she is over sixteen.
  • During civil court proceedings, Eduardo is accused of animal cruelty and responds that he would rather be accused of necrophilia.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • During a party scene we see: two young woman kissing, two young woman stripped down to their underwear and dancing on a table top and a group of young men and women playing strip poker with some of the players stripped down to their underwear
  • A young woman pushes Mark Zuckerberg into a public toilet cubicle and kisses him passionately. She rips open Mark’s shirt, unzips his pants and while facing Mark moves her head down towards his crotch. Eduardo and a second young woman are similarly engaged in the next cubicle.
  • A young woman wearing a T-shirt and brief pants is seen asleep on top of Sean Parker. The young woman gets up and walks to the bathroom with the camera focusing on her young woman’s buttocks. The young woman removes her clothes to take a shower and we see a quick unfocused image of her naked back and buttocks and later see her with a towel draped around her body.
  • During a party a woman lies on a table top with her shirt unbuttoned, revealing her bra, exposed cleavage and naked stomach. White powder (presumably cocaine) is placed on the woman’s naked stomach and a man inhales it through a straw.

Use of substances

The Social Network contains drug use throughout. Examples include:

  • Throughout the film we see young men and woman, some of them under age, consuming various types of alcohol in a variety of social settings and in various states of intoxication. 
  • Mark admits to being drunk while creating the on-line game Facemash and we see him consuming alcohol while creating the game.
  • Young woman with some of the woman smoke and passing around a cannabis cigarette.
  • In a couple of scenes young men and woman are depicted smoking cigarettes and on one occasion a cigar.
  • A small white pill, presumably ecstasy, is placed on a young woman’s tongue at a party.
  • As part of an interview process to test computer programmers, Mark gets the programmers to engage in a drinking game that involves the programmers drinking numerous shots of spirits while hacking into computer systems.
  • A young woman acts in an intoxicated manner and talks about being stoned. We hear reference made to taking a “bong hit”.
  • Two young women smoke cannabis through a giant water-pipe.
  • Zuckerberg snorts cocaine through a straw from a woman’s stomach. When police arrive Sean Parker quickly brushes the powder off her but the police see white powder on Sean’s hand and arrest him.   

Coarse language

The Social Network contains course language and putdowns throughout. Examples include:

  • F*ck you; arsehole; bitch; shit;; dick; Jesus Christ; screw around; Silicon Valley sluts; bullshit; kick your arse       

In a nutshell

The Social Network, based on real events, is a drama about creative genius, friendship and greed. While the film targets young adults and older adolescents, it may also appeal to younger teens who are Facebook users. Parents of this age group may be particularly concerned about the film’s portrayal of drug and alcohol use.

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • while social networks can be used in a positive way, they can also be used to cause great harm. 
  • ambition and greed can destroy friendships.

Parents may wish to discuss the consequences, legal and otherwise, of misusing on-line social networks, and the psychological damage that can be caused through cyberbullying.