Mark Zuckerberg beat Julian Assange in Time’s “Person of the Year”

The traditional readers’ vote revolved more around two other finalists, namely Julian Assange and Lady Gaga, but the newspaper’s management has the final word, as managing editor Richard Stengel said, when announcing the ranking on NBC’s “Today Show”.

Julian Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, became one of the most famous men on the planet after publishing on his site hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

Ranked by Forbes as one of the most powerful men in the world, there was heavy pressure from readers in favor of Assange, who is currently detained in London and threatened with extradition to Sweden.

However, the editors of the magazine decided otherwise and Julian Assange is ranks third, behind the U.S. conservative movement “Tea Party”.

The managing editor of Time has justified the choice of the newspaper by the global importance taken by Facebook, which after only six years of existence has over 500 million subscribers.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time’s person of the year, the magazine announced Wednesday.

“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, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is Time’s 2010 Person of the Year,” Richard Stengel said on Time’s Web site.

He described Zuckerberg, a Harvard dropout, as a “T-shirt-wearing head of state.”

“Zuckerberg is part of the last generation of human beings who will remember life before the Internet, though only just,” Stengel added. “He started Facebook as a way for people on college campuses to communicate with and keep track of one another — and occasionally poke each other and leer at each other’s pictures — but in a broader sense he was firing the first shot in his generation’s takeover of the Internet.”

“Being named as Time Person of the Year is a real honor and recognition of how our little team is building something that hundreds of millions of people want to use to make the world more open and connected. I’m happy to be a part of that,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Chilean miners rescued from the mine in San Jose were also among the finalists.

Mark Zuckerberg is the second youngest “Man of the Year” after the American aviator Charles Lindbergh, who had received the same distinction in 1927 at the age of 25.

The young man, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $ 6.9 billion, recently promised, with sixteen other American billionaires, to give most of his fortune to charity.

This pledge was launched last August by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett, who occupy the second and third places in Forbes’ list of richest people in the world.

The magazine goes on sale Friday with a closeup of Mark Zuckerberg’s face at the headlines.

Last year, the chairman of the Fed Ben Bernanke was named “Person of the Year” by Time.

Image source: Time magazine