Magazine praises Zuckerberg for wiring ‘a twelfth of humanity’ into single network.By Gil Kaufman
Mark Zuckerberg on the cover of <i>Time</i> magazine
Yes, being the youngest self-made billionaire at 26 is impressive. And having an award-nominated movie about your company’s origins become a big-screen hit is not too shabby either. But one of the reasons Time magazine chose Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its “Person of the Year” is this little fact: “In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity in a single network.”
Praising the Facebook boss for creating a universal living room that has brought the planet that much closer together, the magazine wrote that “we have entered the Facebook age, and Mark Zuckerberg is the man who brought us here.”
In a year in which Zuckerberg’s American tale was brought to life by director David Fincher in the hit “The Social Network” — which didn’t always paint a flattering portrait of the billionaire boss — and Zuck joined an initiative among the mega-wealthy to donate the majority of his fortune to charity, the bottom line for Time was the way in which Facebook has fundamentally altered the way we communicate, spend our time and organize our social lives.
Born in 1984, the same year the first Macintosh computer from Apple was introduced, Time said that Zuckerberg is both a product of his wired generation and an architect of our digital world.
“The social-networking platform he invented is closing in on 600 million users. In a single day, about a billion new pieces of content are posted on Facebook. It is the connective tissue for nearly a tenth of the planet,” the magazine wrote about the platform created by the T-shirt-wearing Harvard dropout. “Facebook is now the third-largest country on earth and surely has more information about its citizens than any government does.”
Zuckerberg beat out the year’s runners-up, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — who launched a nefarious digital revolution of his own — and the upstart Tea Party political movement, whose impact was felt in the 2010 midterm elections that swept Democrats out of the majority in the House of Representatives while narrowing the gap in the Senate.
Like those two rogue movements, “Zuckerberg doesn’t have a whole lot of veneration for traditional authority,” the magazine wrote. “In a sense, Zuckerberg and Assange are two sides of the same coin. Both express a desire for openness and transparency. While Assange attacks big institutions and governments through involuntary transparency with the goal of disempowering them, Zuckerberg enables individuals to voluntarily share information with the idea of empowering them. Assange sees the world as filled with real and imagined enemies; Zuckerberg sees the world as filled with potential friends.”
While his youth and relatively modest life experience might make the designation seem premature, Time noted that “Person of the Year” is not and never has been intended as an honor. Case in point, along with such winners as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., other designees have included dictators Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin and disgraced U.S. President Richard Nixon.
“It is a recognition of the power of individuals to shape our world,” the magazine explained. “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.”
While they weren’t in the running for “Person of the Year,” among the other notable deemed “People Who Mattered” by the magazine were Justin Bieber, Sandra Bullock, Lady Gaga, the cast of “Glee,” LeBron James, the cast of “Jersey Shore,” Conan O’Brien, Kanye West and Betty White.
Do you think Mark Zuckerberg was the right choice for Time’s Person of the Year? Sound off in the comments.
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