TIME: Mark Zuckerberg, not Steve Jobs or Julian Assange, is Person of 2010. Dissapointed?

Social network Facebook, which catapulted Mark Zuckerberg into stardom, has also turned the 26-year-old CEO into Silicon Valley’s youngest paper billionaire. 

Time magazine took notice and named the youngster the most influential person of 2010.

Forget the woes surrounding Facebook’s privacy practices and tremendous backlash each time a minor site redesign affects users’ profile pages – none of this could stop Facebook’s soar into our collective consciousness. 

And who would have thought a simple idea Zuckerberg came up with while studying at Harvard would hit the ground running and touch our lives in such a big way.

This, and more, has led the editors of Time magazine to name the 26-year-old founder of Facebook its annual Person of the Year. 

It’s no small feat.

Zuck has managed to beat the likes of Steve Jobs who won the title in the past, famous politicians, world leaders, and other public figures who were on the consideration list.

The magazine justified its pick with the social impact Zuckerberg’s social network has had on our lives:

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.

If the readers’ were to decide, they would have preferred Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks, over Zuckerberg, a vote among Time readers revealed.

Despite the fact that industry veterans frequently slam Facebook’s CEO for his youthfulness, inexperience, his poor public speaking skills, too romantic understanding of the world he lives in and skateboard-style outfit, the youngster did manage to prove the critics wrong when his company crossed half a billion registered users earlier this year.

Not even tongue-in-cheek movie Social Network that portrayed Zuckerberg as a selfish, introvert and insecure bastard with insatiable sexual appetite could change the fact that Facebook caught a myriad of competing social networks on the wrong foot, including the then juggernaut MySpace operated by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp conglomerate.

Really, when was the last time you updated your MySpace profile? And if Facebook continues growing at such a staggering pace, it stands a good chance of becoming a sort of yellow pages for planet Earth. As the popular saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Photo credit: Martin Schoeller for Time magazine