The Guardian quoted Time journalist Lev Grossman, who said that Zuckerberg was honoured "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, 26 years old, beat a string of notable personalities - points out the Guardian - including WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, who, instead, won the reader's choice award, and the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. The 33 rescued Chilean miners and the rightwing US Tea Party movement were also named as runners-up. Assange's win was announced earlier this week.
Last week Zuckerberg pledged to give away at least half of his fortune in the philanthropic campaign, The Giving Pledge, launched by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Buffett. Gates and Buffett have asked US billionaires to make a moral commitment to give their fortunes to charity.
The Time name of the year is part of the bigger "2010 Time 100" list, containing the names of the world's most influential people. Writing to the readers, Time explains that "the TIME 100 is not about the influence of power but the power of influence". Some of the people of the list are influential in the traditional sense, as heads of state like Barack Obama, but others are people whose ideas and actions are revolutionizing their fields and transforming lives, like Matt Berg, who is using text-messaging technology to improve community health monitoring in Africa, they say.