Opinion Brief

Does Mark Zuckerberg deserve to be Time's 'Person of the Year'?

The Facebook founder beat out WikiLeaks' Julian Assange to be named the planet's most influential human. Was he the right choice?

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's 26-year-old co-founder and chief executive, has been named Time's "Person of the Year." The weekly news magazine said it chose Zuckerberg for "connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives." The selection has, inevitably, provoked criticism, especially from those who assumed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be deemed the bigger newsmaker. Does the Facebook phenom deserve the title?

Assange was robbed: Everyone thought the WikiLeaks founder would take the spot, says Nitasha Tiku at New York, but Time has gone for the "safer option" of Zuckerberg. This, in spite of the fact that the "person with the most impact, [and the] person most speculated over" was clearly Assange. Naming the Facebook founder "feels dated" already."Time Magazine's person of the year is not Julian Assange"

It should have been Steve Jobs: Time's justifications for choosing Zuckerberg could easily be applied to Apple's CEO, says Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, "an individual who has shaped our world as much as — if not more than — Mark Zuckerberg, and who has a business model that actually works." I'm guessing that if Time Inc. wasn't in a dispute with Apple over its app store, "we might have seen a different face on this week's cover.""Why Mark Zuckerberg, not Steve Jobs, is Time's person of the year"

Zuckerberg was the sensible choice: Time was faced with a dilemma here, says Jared Newman at PC World. Choose a man "whose work exposed dirty secrets and sent governments into panic mode" and is currently behind bars. Or "pick the man whose work brought together more than 500 million people." The magazine went for "warm and fuzzy" over controversial. Disappointed? At least it's a "better choice than You," the pathetic 2006 winner."Facebook's Zuckerberg is Time's person of the year"

Wisdom prevailed: I had nothing to do with making this decision, says James Poniewozik at Time, but I can hazard a guess why Zuckerberg won over Assange. The WikiLeaks story, as big as it is, was "magnified by being the most recent big story of 2010." And while the WikiLeaks site is a good example of "the shift in the information ecosystem," Zuckerberg's creation is, "increasingly, the ecosystem itself.""Time updates Zuckerberg's status to 'Person of the Year'"

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