Ethics for Professional Accountants

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Based on the novel The Accidental Billionaire, The Social Network is a film that explains the birth and evolution of Facebook, one of the most popular social media of the 21st century. In 2003, a young Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, experienced a sudden heartbreak from his girlfriend during his dinner party. Mark was angry and confused. So he decided to fight back. That night, he had the crazy idea of hacking into Harvard's system and stealing all the girls' information, including their photographs. A few hours later after taking the ladies’ information with his friend, Eduardo Saverin, the two established a social site known as FaceMash. They encouraged the other students to compare the girls’ faces on this new site. Eventually, the platform paralyzed the school’s system and made Mark famous overnight. However, Mark received his first-time punishment from the university for his action.

The Birth of Facebook

Consequently, Mark and Eduardo’s site drew more attention from Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss where they invited them to create a Harvard Connection site. Mark and Eduardo accepted the invitation, but at the same time, they continued writing their social platform which they changed to Facebook, taking a reference to Cameron and Tyler’s idea. The social site; Facebook, also regain high popularity, where more and more users joined. However, Cameron and Tyler accused Mark and Eduardo of copying their idea.

Challenges and Conflicts

Although Mark was in trouble, he did not give up on his objective of developing Facebook.

Mark and Eudora met with Napster, the founder of Sean Parker, where they discussed the problem of advertisement on Facebook. Mark and Eduardo showed different opinions on this issue. Apparently, Mark agreed with Sean’s view, while Eduardo insisted on finding the advertising sponsors in New York. This issue, among other problems about developing Facebook brought about a conflict between Mark and Eduardo. Eduardo’s equity got diluted each year, but after some time, Eduardo filed a lawsuit against Mark and Facebook. At the end of the film, Mark Zuckerberg tried to add her ex-girlfriend on Facebook. He pressed the reload cursor every minute and waited for the approval.

Ethical Dilemmas

Apparently, the foundation of Facebook is full of stories, and that is why I developed some interest in this film. I don’t know how much of the social network is authentic and how much of it is based on the author’s imagination, but I don’t care about it. I believe that the central ethical dilemmas are not dramatic in the film.

As stated by Mayer (2016), once, the motto for Google company was “Don’t be evil.” In my opinion, it means that the original idea of Google is to make a better world by the technique of the internet. Compared with the Google’s idea, the original idea of Facebook is always controversial. The prototype of Facebook came from FaceMash, a site that compared the girls’ physical appearance. Consequently, there are two unethical problems with this site. First, Mark acquired the ladies’ information by hacking the University’s system without any legal authorization. The law entitles every individual to have their privacy. Apparently, Mark’s behavior was a violation of the individual’s privacy, which is illegal and unethical. Also, I strongly disagreed with the ideas that encourage others to comment on someone’s appearance. All men are created equal regardless of their color, race, and appearance; everyone has their beauty. We should show respect for all individuals instead of commenting on their outlook in the public networks. I know that these behaviors may not be against the law, but they are unethical. Fortunately, Facebook changed its original ideas and developed its slogan from “Move fast and break things” to “Move fast with stable infra” (Murphy,2014). However, every new idea and breakthrough need to be ethical.

Controversy and Lawsuits

Another controversial point of Mark is whether Facebook cribbed the ideas of Harvard connection, which was created by Winklevoss twins. In reality, Cameron and Tyler hurled a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg, which resulted in a $65m legal settlement in which Winklevoss twins got $45m-worth of Facebook shares and $20m in cash (Naughton, 2011). Some think that Winklevoss twins did not deserve such shares of Facebook because they did not attend the subsequent development of Facebook which resulted in significant profits. But I believe that the compensation for Winklevoss shows that the law should punish all unethical behaviors that someone thinks it is hard to define. Unlike plagiarism, it is uneasy to find sufficient evidence of copying other people’s ideas. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there are any loopholes you can find because authorities always establish different new laws. No one who can escape from the punishment of what they have done.

The Relationship and Ethics

Even though there are many stories in this film, most of the people focus on the relationship between Mark and Eduardo. Eduardo once was Mark’s best friend and the co-founders of Facebook. He supported Mark’s ideas and helped him to succeed. However, in the end, the two separated because of business interests. Personally, I have no position on the issue that Mark diminished Eduardo’s equity because most of the business decisions are complicated and conclude a lot of elements. However, all businessmen should balance their interest in ethics no matter the kind of the business.

The Future of Facebook

Currently, no one who can deny the fact that Facebook is the most successful social media; but, the platform is developing in the dispute. Mark Zuckerberg is a legend in most of the people’s eye. Facebook should think of taking some actions that show corporate social responsibility. Through a severe lawsuit, Mark Zuckerberg can realize that his social network can only gain a long-term success in an ethical society because most of Facebook’s users pursue a warmth, moral and equal world.


Mayer, D. (2016). Why Google was Smart to Drop Its “Don’t Be Evil Motto.” Retrieved on November 11, 2017, from

Murphy, D. (2014). Facebook Changes Its 'Move Fast and Break Things' Motto.

Retrieved on November 11, 2017, from

Naughton, J. (2011). Facebook legal battle: Why the two heads of the Winklevoss twins weren’t better than one. Retrieved on November 11, 2017, from

March 15, 2023



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