TIME magazine has named Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg its Person of the Year 2010, suggesting that the site which “started out as a lark” has now gone on to change “the way human beings relate to each other.” The news will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to those who see Facebook’s growth eroding real-world interpersonal relationships and point to the ways the site leverages its users’ personal data for financial reward.
“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. We are now running our social lives through a for-profit network that, on paper at least, has made Zuckerberg a billionaire six times over.” TIME
Admittedly, TIME editor Richard Stengel does at least acknowledge some of the controversy around Facebook, crediting Zuckerberg for “creating a new system of exchanging information that has become both indispensable and sometimes a little scary.”
TIME’s runners-up include The Tea Party movement, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, and the thirty-three Chilean Miners trapped underground for seventy days. Meanwhile, noted for their “15 Minutes of Fame” are exasperated ex-Jet Blue steward Steven Slater, the Old Spice Guy and Paul “Double Rainbow” Vasquez.