THE BLOG
02/03/2011 04:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Hollywood: Thanks for Image Boost. Love, Mark Zuckberberg

Mark Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old CEO of Facebook, took on a Warholian idea -- that anybody could be famous -- and created a Web site that allows users to cast themselves as stars of their own lives.

Never again would the line between what is public and what is private be clearly understood; by allowing private citizens to reinvent themselves as public figures, Facebook signaled the end of privacy. Suddenly, a person's private "status" -- whether eating, drinking or coughing -- became a news item.

More explicit privacy settings would follow, allowing Facebook users some forms of protection. But Facebook's founder didn't get off so easily. The Hollywood release of The Social Network harbingered the end of Zuckerberg's private life.

When the film first hit theaters last September, its complex but unflattering portrait of Zuckerberg raised immediate alarm. The media went wild speculating about the potential harm to the young-genius-billionaire's image.

The film's tagline, "You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies" is enough to haunt anyone who is image-conscious. But for the 26-year-old mogul at the helm of what may be the world's most famous company -- and a social networking site to boot -- the film's portrayal threatened to send Zuckerberg into fits of madness.

Oh what a difference an awards season makes.

In the five months since opening, the film has lapped up box office success and critical acclaim, and, along the way, Zuckerberg's image has undergone elaborate transformation. The once Machiavellian Harvard student has become the philanthropic humanitarian.

It was hard to see that one coming: Last August, a report on the entertainment news site TheWrap.com depicted the young CEO on the verge of a meltdown. Writing about the AllThingsD conference on digital media, where Zuckerberg was a presenter, TheWrap editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman wrote that the hoodie-wearing Zuckerberg seemed "nervous," and that he "stammered" during his presentation and "sweated" a lot. Not exactly the picture of Facebook's calculated cool.

Read the rest at Hollywood Jew