Mark Zuckerberg is Time magazine’s Person of the Year

2010 has been an outrageously successful year in the life of Mark Zuckerberg. The 26-year old web entrepreneur, who founded Facebook while at university, has turned the social network into a global phenomenon. And to top it all off, Zuckerberg has pledged to donate half of his wealth to charity.

Facebook is now the second largest web property in the world, after Google, with more than half-a-billion users from every country on the map.

For this, Zuckerberg was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. On the cover, a surprisingly unflattering, emotionless and almost “alienesque” photo of the young web entrepreneur peers at readers from piercing green eyes.

Zuckerberg is the second youngest person named on Time magazine’s annual cover ritual. He won the accolade and an intimate cover portrait, despite a push by readers of the magazine for WikiLeaks maestro Julian Assange to take the honour.

Managing editor Richard Stengel said Zuckerberg’s social networking service was “transforming the way we live our lives every day”.

The Time magazine article is glowing in its assessment, saying “Facebook… is a permanent fact of our global social reality. We have entered the Facebook age, and Mark Zuckerberg is the man who brought us here.”

The runners up -chosen by Time were the conservative US Tea Party movement that made a big impact in recent midterm elections, followed by Assange.

Assange, currently behind bars in London on Swedish sexual assault charges, is at the center of a global uproar over his organization’s leaking of secret US diplomatic cables.

Readers of Time magazine had voted overwhelmingly for him to be named “person of the year,” followed by Lady Gaga, the US singer best known for her elaborate costumes.

But Stengel said that Facebook has turned into a global influence of unprecedented scope.

“For connecting more than half-a-billion people and mapping the social relations among them (something that has never been done before); for creating a new system of exchanging information that has become both indispensable and sometimes a little scary; and finally, for changing how we all live our lives in ways that are innovative and even optimistic, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is Time’s 2010 Person of the Year,” Stengel said in a statement.

In an interview on NBC television, Stengel said Zuckerberg was “humbled” and “deeply affected” by the award.

Contrary to the unpleasant portrait of Zuckerberg presented in the hit Hollywood movie “The Social Network,” the Facebook mogul is “very affable,” Stengel said. “He’s very quick, he’s quick witted.” However, “what happens on camera is he pulls back, he gets shy.”

The article presents some interesting insights into Zuckerberg’s personality, which contrast strongly with his portrayal in the movie. “The reality is that [he] isn’t alienated, and he isn’t a loner. He’s the opposite. He’s spent his whole life in tight, supportive, intensely connected social environments: first in the bosom of the Zuckerberg family, then in the dorms at Harvard and now at Facebook, where his best friends are his staff, there are no offices and work is awesome. Zuckerberg loves being around people. He didn’t build Facebook so he could have a social life like the rest of us. He built it because he wanted the rest of us to have his.”

Controversial, US-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the group of Chilean miners who survived being buried underground in a tunnel were the final runners up selected by Time.

In 1927, American aviator Charles Lindbergh was Time’s first “man of the year,” as it was then known, and the youngest at the age of 25.

The popular issue goes on newsstands Friday.



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