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For Zuckerberg, though, the film turned out to be less something to fear than to scoff at. He even took the whole company to see “The Social Network,” buying out two theaters for the occasion.

“It’s pretty interesting to see what parts they got right and what parts they got wrong,” Zuckerberg said earlier this month in a “60 Minutes” interview. “They got every single T-shirt that they had the Mark Zuckerberg character wearing right. I think I actually own those T-shirts.

“But I mean, there are hugely basic things that they got wrong, too. I mean, they made it seem like my whole motivation for building Facebook was so I could get girls, right? And they completely left out the fact that my girlfriend, I’ve been dating since before I started Facebook, right?”

The film is sure to remain a hot topic until the Feb. 27 Academy Awards.

“It’s a movie for its time,” said Kevin Spacey, a producer of the film. “And yet I think it’s a movie that’s going to last.”

But Facebook touches the lives of an enormous audience unimaginable to any Hollywood film. Zuckerberg, who grew up in the New York City suburb of Dobbs Ferry, the son of a computer-obsessed dentist, has built Facebook from a dorm room creation at Harvard into the largest social networking site in the world.

As it grew, he steadily turned down offers from companies like Yahoo and Microsoft, and has so far declined to take Facebook public. Asked about a Facebook IPO on “60 Minutes,” Zuckerberg said, “Maybe.”

“A lot of people who I think build startups or companies think that selling the company or going public is this endpoint,” he said. “It’s like you win when you go public. And that’s just not how I see it.”

Not everyone sees Facebook’s rise as a good thing. Some question the depth of its social interaction, and many have raised questions over its attitudes about privacy. Facebook has continually urged its users to share more personal information, often prompting criticism from privacy groups and users.

But Zuckerberg, now a celebrity himself and one of the world’s youngest billionaires, sees Facebook as a universal identity system that could challenge Google and even e-mail for the basis of Internet communication. In his book “The Facebook Effect,” David Kirkpatrick wrote that Zuckerberg is less motivated by money than his vision for the Web and Facebook.

“The question I ask myself like almost every day is: `Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’” Zuckerberg told him. “Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time. And that’s what this company is.”

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Online:

http://www.time.com/