Twitter Chooses the TIME Person of the Year — Or Does It?

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TIME magazine has partnered with Twitter to allow readers to vote for the 2013 Person Of The Year and using the #TIMEPOY hashtag. Voting is open until December 4, 2013. The question is, what’s the point when the ultimate decision lies with TIME, and they’ve dismissed reader votes before?

TIME is keeping track of the votes on TIME.com, the hashtag, @replies and tweets sent to @TIME using Poptip, a social media analysis tool. The claimed purpose is to make sure all cast votes are accounted for.

Poptip is using tournament style voting and Twitter’s new visual timeline will be used extensively during the voting campaign to engage users to share their opinions. Celebrity and politicians have shared Vines voicing their opinions on who has shaped this year more than any other person.

As exciting as all this sounds, it all smacks a little of pointlessness when the decision lays with the TIME editors. Among the names being volleyed about on Twitter, Miley Cyrus, Edward Snowden and Pope Francis seem to be heavy favorites. But heavy favorites don’t mean a whole lot.

Julian Assange was highly supported by online voters for TIME Person Of The Year after publishing government secrets in 2010, but it was Mark Zuckerberg who took the title. “Anonymous” racked up over 396,000 votes for the TIME top 100 in 2012, but they were hardly celebrated with their entry on the list stating “Anonymous earned its place on the list, one way or the other.”

TIME can rabbit on as much as it wants about participation, it can wave around statistics, but when they already likely have a shortlist in mind all the voting will do is generate buzz that they will go back to ignoring the moment they announce their winner. They’ll probably care little that Miley Cyrus got the most votes, and they probably won’t care about how controversial their winner is.

I’m voting for Michael Dukakis.

Image credit:  David Fraíz

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