Who you calling ruthless? ‘Social Network’ works wonders for Mark Zuckerberg’s image [VIDEO]

Talk about a turnaround.

When “The Social Network” first hit theaters last September, with its unflattering portrait of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg front and center, the media went wild speculating about the potential damage to Zuckerberg’s young-genius-billionaire image. But that’s all changed. What began as a negative PR blitz on Zuckerberg and his haughty conquer-the-world attitude has transformed into the most celebratory and useful publicity both Zuckerberg and his company have seen since Facebook’s founding. And to think, all it took was a little Oscar buzz.

Okay, a lot of Oscar buzz. The past few months of award-winning and Oscar campaigning have not only cemented Aaron Sorkin’s genius, but proven that Zuckerberg isn’t the socially inept anti-hero of the movie but a benevolent titan of the digital age. Of course, that $100-million gift to the Newark public school system helped—but try arguing that even that gesture wasn’t strategically timed to coincide with the film’s release. For his part, even Sorkin offered a kind of mea culpa to Zuckerberg during his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes: “I want to say to Mark Zuckerberg tonight,” Sorkin began earlier this month, “Rooney Mara’s character makes a prediction at the beginning of the movie. She was wrong. You turned out to be a great entrepreneur, a visionary and an incredible altruist.”

Below is Zuckerberg’s much talked about surprise cameo on Saturday Night Live, when he shared the stage with alter-ego and “Social Network” star Jesse Eisenberg: (The video streaming below is pretty slow and NBC has blocked embed codes on YouTube but I did find a link to a better version of the video here)