In snub to WikiLeaks, Zuckerberg wins TIME Person of Year 2010

Richi's Rant: TIME Person of the Year 2010 should be WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Don't hold an election if you're going to fake the result, foolish magazine.

Julian Assange (The Guardian)

It's mid-December, which means it's TIME Magazine's Person of the Year time again. A few days ago, we learned that the public had overwhelmingly voted for Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange for the win. Depressingly, TIME's taken the safe option, opting for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, instead. Let's avoid the conspiracy theories, but dissect the choice, in The Long View... TIME's Lev Grossman pontificates thuswise:

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. ... It has turned into ... something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale. ... Facebook has merged with the social fabric of ... human life. ... It's a permanent fact of our global social reality.

Oh for pity's sake. Mark Zuckerberg? Is this really your idea of the person who's had the biggest impact on the world this year? It sure as heck isn't mine. The people's choice was, overwhelmingly, Julian Assange. Assange got more votes than the next two highest candidates combined (Lady Gaga and the Prime Minister of Turkey, in case you were wondering). Zuckerberg ran a very distant 10th, with fewer than 5% of the number of votes cast for Assange. Dear TIME Magazine, what's the point of asking for votes, if you're going to go ahead and choose an unpopular choice? It's a simply juvenile defense to say, "TIME's editors who choose the actual Person of the Year reserve the right to disagree." And it's no use blaming the 4chan.org /b/tard Anonymous army for stuffing the votes. If you really thought that was the case, you should have disqualified Assange, rather than meekly naming him as runner up, alongside The Tea Party (a political movement that, by the way, is turning the U.S. into an international laughing stock). And why Zuckerberg in 2010? It's hardly a move demonstrating insight or foresight. Last year, or 2008, perhaps. But really, was 2010 the year of Facebook? Of course not: it was just riding the inevitable momentum built up in earlier years. TIME has clearly demonstrated that it has zero understanding of how social networks work. TIME's Richard Stengel shows his blissful ignorance of this year's widespread criticism of Zuckerberg:

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 ... Zuckerberg enables individuals to voluntarily share information with the idea of empowering them.

Yeah, except this comparison completely ignores all the privacy panics that Facebook has received recently. Far from "enabling individuals to voluntarily share information," it seems that Facebook actively attempts to trick individuals into involuntarily sharing information. Did TIME cave in to political pressure? I neither know nor care. What I do know is that this year's choice is simply ludicrous.  

For whom did you vote? Leave a comment below...

Richi Jennings, blogger at large
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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