Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook named Time's person of 2010

Mark Zuckerberg Mr Zuckerberg was the subject of the 2010 film The Social Network

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Time magazine has picked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as its annual Person of the Year, the figure it believes had the most influence on events in 2010.

The 26-year-old billionaire was the subject of a 2010 film, The Social Network, charting Facebook's rise.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange earlier won a Time readers' poll on 2010's most influential person.

The annual feature has been a fixture since the 1920s, with the winner appearing on the front cover of Time.

The conservative Tea Party political movement was second choice of the magazine's editors and correspondents, followed by Mr Assange, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the 33 trapped Chilean miners.

In the readers' poll, more than 382,000 favoured naming Mr Assange as Person of the Year, ahead of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and pop star Lady Gaga.

Mr Zuckerberg only made tenth place in the poll, garnering less than 20,000 votes.

Runaway success

Michael Elliott, Time's Deputy Managing Editor, explained why the Facebook founder was chosen

Time managing editor Richard Stengel said Mr Zuckerberg's social networking service was "transforming the way we live our lives every day".

Mr Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook while a student at Harvard University in 2004. It now has more than 500 million users worldwide and employs more than 1,700 people.

In a statement, Mr Zuckerberg said the Time award was "a real honour 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."

Mr Zuckerberg, estimated to be worth $6.9bn (£4.4bn), is one of the richest people in the US, and earlier this month he became one of the latest billionaires to pledge to give away the majority of his wealth.

He is one of 17 new people to support a group, founded by Bill Gates and his wife along with Warren Buffett, which encourages America's wealthiest to publicly promise to donate to charity.

The Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) title is awarded by the magazine's editors to the figure deemed to have had the most influence on world events that year - not necessarily in a positive way.

Both Hitler and Stalin have won in the past.

In recent years, the title has gone to less controversial figures. In 2009 US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke won it, while US President Barack Obama won it the year before.

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