He has already become one of the richest and most generous men on our planet. And now Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2010.
In a statement, Mr Zuckerberg said the Time award was “a real honour and recognition of how our little team is building something that hundreds of millions of people want to use to make the world more open and connected. I’m happy to be a part of that.”
At 26, Zuckerberg is the youngest “Person of the Year” since the first one chosen, Charles Lindbergh; he was 25 when he was named in 1927, Time said on Wednesday.
More than 500million people, or one in twelve of the world’s population, are now members to the point where it has “merged with the fabric of human life,” TIME’s editors say. Facebook has such an incredible reach over human beings it now affects us ‘on a species-wide scale,’ they say.
In second place on the list was the Tea Party movement which has tightened its grip on American politics and helped turn the tide against Democrats in the U.S. mid-term elections.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was in third due to the US embassy cables which have caused a colossal diplomatic storm, followed by Afghan president Hamid Karzai despite lingering concerns he is “vain, incompetent and monumentally corrupt.”
Rounding off the winners were all 33 of the Chilean miners whose incredible tale of survival inspired the world this year.
In their awards, TIME’s editors write: “In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S.”
“If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest, behind only China and India. It started out as a lark, a diversion, but it has turned into something real, something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale.”
“It’s something that is transforming the way we live our lives every day. It’s social engineering, changing the way we relate to each other,” added Richard Stengel, Time Managing Editor.
The “Person of the Year” (formerly “Man of the Year”) title is awarded by the magazine’s editors to the figure deemed to have had the most influence on world events that year – not necessarily in a positive way.
Zuckerberg has put himself on the map not only as one of the world’s youngest billionaires, but also as a prominent newcomer to the world of philanthropy.
Earlier this year, he pledged $100m over five years to the Newark, New Jersey, school system. Now, he’s in the company of media titans Carl Icahn, 74, Barry Diller, 68, and others who have joined Giving Pledge, an effort led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett to commit the country’s wealthiest people to step up their charitable donations.
Zuckerberg has built Facebook into an international phenomenon by stretching the lines of social convention and embracing a new and far more permeable definition of community. In this new world, users are able to construct a social network well beyond what would ever be possible face-to-face.
“I’m trying to make the world a more open place,” Zuckerberg says in the “bio” line of his own Facebook page. Born in Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room, the Facebook Inc. has grown in six years to more than 500 million users worldwide, employs more than 1,700 people and worth billions of dollars.
Federal reserve chairperson Ben Bernanke received the honour last year. The 2008 winner was then-president-elect Barack Obama. The 2007 winner was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.