Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg an Upset Winner of TIME 2010 Person of the Year

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has more important things to worry about, like trying to secure his release on bail from prison in Sweden. There is no celebrating in the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Lady Gaga is not dancing. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have one less thing to be smug about on Comedy Central, and ditto for Glenn Beck on Fox News Channel. President Barack Obama is dealing with more significant issues, like war and unemployment. Steve Jobs is gearing up for the release of the second-generation iPad. The Chilean miners are probably just happy to be alive. And, much like Assange and Obama, the unemployed American has far more significant issues to deal with.

What do all of those people have in common? They all finished ahead of Mark Zuckerberg in voting by TIME readers for its 2010 Person of the Year, yet the Facebook co-founder and CEO rebounded from finishing No. 10 on the readers’ poll and impressed the magazine’s editors enough to be named TIME 2010 Person of the Year.

From the explanation penned by managing editor Richard Stengel:

Like two of our runners-up this year, Julian Assange and the Tea Party, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have a whole lot of veneration for traditional authority. 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. Both have a certain disdain for privacy: In Assange’s case because he feels it allows malevolence to flourish; in Zuckerberg’s case because he sees it as a cultural anachronism, an impediment to a more efficient and open connection between people.

Related Stories
Mediabistro Course

Instagram Marketing

Instagram MarketingStarting October 27, learn how to gain likes and followers on one of the most popular social media platforms! In this course, you'll learn how to develop an Instagram strategy that will make your profile stand out and gain new followers, tell a brand story through photos, and use your Instagram profile to drive your sales and business objectives. Register now!