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Zuckerberg beats Assange to claim Person of the Year™

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has defied WikiLeaks supporters to claim Time magazine's Person of the Year™ crown.

Julian Assange came in third, behind the Tea Party, the chaotic but influential agglomeration of US right wingers. WikiLeaks had openly campaigned for him to win, issuing fanciful claims it would protect him from "assassination or extradition".

WikiLeakers can console themselves in the knowledge that a fellow web celebrity and former hacker, who like Assange is sometimes portrayed as arrogant and socially awkward, claimed the accolade.

At 26, Zuckerberg is the second-youngest winner. The 25-year-old aviator Charles Lindbergh was made the first Person of the Year™ in 1927 for his record-breaking transatlantic flight.

Time said the Facebook founder deserved its award "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".

Zuckerberg joins Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Intel co-founder Andy Grove as the third tech billionaire to make the honour roll. "The Computer" got a special Machine of the Year™ Time cover in 1982, while in a cringeworthy nod to the fashion for "web 2.0" technologies, "You" were named 2006 Person of the Year™.

Zuckerberg seems a fair choice. This year Facebook cemented its domination of social networking, and its cultural significance was acknowledged in a Hollywood movie that dramatised its creation at Harvard, including Zuckerberg's sometimes dubious business practices. He meanwhile buffed his reputation by announcing a $100m philanthropic gift to New Jersey schools on Oprah Winfrey.

You can read the lengthy Time article about why it chose him here. ®

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