It is a funny old world when a 26-year-old computer geek is named as the most influencial person of 2010. Though in a public poll, TIme's Person of the Year, Mark Zuckerberg lost out to Wikileaks founder Julain Assange.
Mark Zuckerberg was announced today as Time magazine’s Person of the Year, an award previously won by fellow technocrats Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and king of the geeks Bill Gates – though Gates' award was more for his philanthropy than his technical wizardry. And this philanthropic leaning may also have had an influence in the awarding of the gong to Zuckerberg. Last month he signed up to the Giving Pledge, which is a charity founded by Warren Buffet and Gates to commit America’s wealthiest people to step up their charitable donations.
Zuckerberg, who is one of the youngest billionaires in the world, owns about a quarter of Facebook’s shares. The decision to give the award to Zuckererg ahead of Assange (who won the reader poll) was taken by the editors at Time, and some have already claimed the decision was influenced by the backlash against Wikileaks in the US since the diplomatic cables were released.
Time editor, Rick Stengel, said: "Assange sees the world as filled with real and imagined enemies; Zuckerberg sees the world as filled with potential friends. Like two of our runners-up this year, Julian Assange and the Tea Party, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have a whole lot of veneration for traditional authority." The award rates the person or group that has most influenced the events of the last year "for better or for worse." Other runners-up include Afghan president Hamid Karzai, the Chilean miners and the right-wing Tea Party movement.
Zuckerberg and Facebook have had a busy year, including simplying its controversial privacy controls, reaching the 500 million milestone, adding its Places service, announcing its email messaging service and failing to annouce the much-rumoured Facebook Phone.