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Mark Zuckerberg is Person of the Year? Where's the "dislike" button? (fsf.org)
259 points by tjr on Dec 21, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

It seems that we're skirting the elephant in the room here - the POTY issue of Time is a huge deal for them. There's tremendous amounts of ad revenue associated with it and there's a lot of pressure on them to put together an issue people want to read.

Yes, Assange made a distinct impact on the news and world events this year, but his face has been all over for this reason and that for weeks, and I think people are kind of sick of it. On top of that, he's hardly what one would call media friendly.

Facebook may seem like old news to us but, IIRC, it was this year that they crossed the 500M user mark. That's a pretty big deal. It sucks up 700 billion man-minutes a month, and that's only getting more out of control.

In hopes of avoiding a rant, let's just say this: if you had to write a major, year-defining (culturally, and for your publication) profile of someone, would you do it about the media figure with a hit movie "about" his life or the guy who has a tendency to walk out on interviews when he doesn't like a question?

I haven't known Assange to walk out. In fact, I'm listening to an interview between Assange and a BBC interviewer right now that basically constitutes hostile badgering and an utterly inappropriate line of questioning, including repetitive "How many women have you slept with?!?! Are you a sexual predator?!?!" questions, and Assange is taking it rather gracefully. I would have stopped the interview much earlier on if I had been asked the same questions in the same way. The interviewer interrupts Assange's answers and otherwise behaves himself badly, apart from the wholly inappropriate questioning.

Interview here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9308000/9308216....

Thanks for those links. I think he acted quite appropriately in both situations. He gave the CNN interviewer repeated warning and clearly did not want to walk, but felt obliged after she persisted, for the fourth or fifth time, in asking the same question.

The ABC interviewer received no such warning, but one can hardly blame that; when an interviewer starts leading into prurient detail about alleged rape like "allegation that you forcibly spread her legs", Assange's reaction of an immediate walk is appropriate, even if the interviewer is oblivious to the impropriety of the question.

I didn't ever mean to suggest that his actions were inappropriate - if you are the target of what appears to be a smear campaign, it makes sense to simply excuse yourself from this kind of confrontation.

That being said, if you were charged with creating a portrait of the man, I can understand some hesitation.

Which brings me to another point. Though Assange is clearly both newsworthy and influential, looking at the news leaves one with the sensation that his story is far from being played out. The narrative for Zuckerberg is pretty much resolved at this point. History will likely remember him more or less as he appeared in The Social Network, regardless of its accuracy. Assange's life and career, on the other hand, would necessarily leave off right before the exciting part, by virtue of it not having happened yet.

I can guarantee that an ABC interviewer of Assange is not oblivious to the impropriety of the question.

What I don't understand is why he just stands up and walks away. It seems impolite. Why not say, "I'm sorry, but I think that question is meant to manipulate your watchers, not inform them, so I won't be able to continue this interview".

Or better, point out that this is based on accusations which are being interpreted by the legal system, with good reason for privacy: not smearing him as a person, which has been violated by the leak. There's a little bit of irony there, but wikileaks doesn't do these kinds of leaks. If, for example, wikileaks were to receive a list of patients with AIDS from a central government database, they would not leak it. I imagine Julian believes in some privacy laws, such as those protecting people on trial from unproven accusations being used to smear their person.

Your argument seems backwards. The reason Wikileaks and Assange have been plastered all over everything is that there is a huge demand for information about them. There is no doubt that Time could have created a lot more interest and controversy and by extension sold more issues (thereby pleasing advertisers more) if they had been honest and ethical and put Assange on their cover, but evidently they have other priorities.

Honest and ethical? This isn't the Nobel Prize. The criteria for POTY is set by Time and can be bent and justified however they see fit. In 2006, it was everybody. It has also been "The Endangered Earth," "Middle Americans," and "The Computer."

They also opted to not include Hussein or Bin Laden. In 2001, it was Giuliani for his response to 9/11, and not anyone actually involved.

Suffice it to say, they have a vested interest in avoiding the more contentious choices. They are becoming less relevant every year, and it seems likely that a lot of their readership still thinks facbook is cool.

Hitler was a past MOTY -- so they didn't always skirt controversy. 60+ years later, I know that -- 60 years from now, no one will know who got it in 2001.

Perhaps 'ethical' goes too far. It depends on what the real basis was for such a dumb choice. Clearly they can choose whoever and however they want, but given the 'well duh' nature of an Assange pick and the prevailing political climate, it seems reasonable to question whether there more is going on than journalistic whimsy.

Assange is a media darling now because he gave them a constant feed of semi-interesting stories in a slow time of the year. They love that.

So I suspect you'll never see any proper coverage of the rape allegations against him.

Yeah I think the people hoping for Assange to get POTY were mistaking Time for a newsmagazine that mattered.

> Assange made a distinct impact on the news and world events this year, but his face has been all over for this reason and that for weeks...

They made a movie about Zuckerberg!

It played in theaters, on big screens! Dozens of them. Possibly hundreds!

A movie!

Not saying you're wrong, but after reaching several hundreds of millions of users, reaching 500 million is not such a big milestone.

Not a big deal.

And btw, if they'll keep their growth at 4% per month, expect 1 billion users on ~ January 2012.

I think 1/12th of the entirety of humanity using your service is something of a milestone.

QQ has reached 500 million users in 2007 [1]. Recently QQ announced they have 100 million simultaneous online users [2].

[1] http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/qq_china_im_web20.php

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tencent_QQ

Entirety of humanity?

~ 1/12th of the current population of the Earth, sure. However, (as of a 2009 estimate) there have been around 106 billion homo sapiens to have lived.

Not to diminish the impact of your statistic with pedantry or anything. :)

source: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=population+of+the+earth...

I don't think it's all that shocking that we don't measure the dead people in that metric. That's not pedantry, that's deliberately twisting words to make a true statement false and then chortling about it.

Geez, It was a joke. When did Hackers eschew humour again?

Joking aside though - He did use the phrase 'entirety of humanity'. On the basis of that, I did not twist his words.

Isn't that the point of a good proportion of comments on Hacker News? It seems to be.

It seems I made a light hearted comment on Hacker News. What was I thinking!

I think the FSF is off here. Time's Person of the Year was never about positive or negative influences, just influences. To prove my point, former honorees include Deng Xaioping, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin. Honoring Zuckerberg as POTY only indicates that they see him as the single most influential person of 2010 with regards to world events.

Even under that criteria, though, I think Julian Assange would've been a much better choice.

Most of the stuff FaceBook did to change the world happened around 2007. Heck, the fact that the movie's coming out now indicates that the important stuff happened long ago.

"I think Julian Assange would've been a much better choice."

I have to wonder - Assange has only received serious press attention for the last few weeks. Isn't this just a case of him being more fresh in our minds?

Asked another way, looking back 3 years from now, who will most people has made a bigger impact on the world?

> Asked another way, looking back 3 years from now, who will most people has made a bigger impact on the world?

This is about this year IMO. Also think about masses, people from afghanistan and pakistan who don't know/care about FB knows about Assagne thanks to he being given high coverage in world media.

I'm really not sure what people in Afghanistan know or how much "World Media" they consume, but I'm pretty sure more of them would have heard of Facebook than Julian Assange.

edit: Changed name because apparently I get modded down for referring to Mr Assange as "Rapey McRapeHair"

How about this?


Caption: "Supporters of Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami protest in Peshawar against an online competition to draw pictures of Prophet Mohammad on Facebook which Muslims deem blasphemous May 20, 2010"

That article is not about Afghanistan but Pakistan.

I thought we were discussing Afghanistan and Pakistan like it says above.

There are very few computers, fewer with internet connections while Television and newspaper are everywhere. Since a month Assagne have been in news, almost daily but FB rarely gets any press. What you see are occasional coverage. Facebook is a part of life of a particular class of society, but there exist another part whose main issue is to fight poverty and related stuff. They may not even have heard of the name of Facebook but they read newspapers. Even for US, how many times was Mark mentioned vs Assagne in print media say NYT ? In the end, Facebook can affect only those, who uses them or at max have internet connections. Wikileaks affect almost everyone.

Honestly wikileaks barely actually affects anyone. Facebook has changed the day to day lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. I can't imagine my life being different at all in the absence of wikileaks, and unless wikileaks in the future leaks something more interesting then I doubt it ever will.

The actual nature of wikileaks's leaks has turned out to be so prosaic that it hasn't really changed anything. Apparently diplomats bitch about things. Whoop de fricking doo.

edit: Wait, I forgot about the Kenya thing, of which Assange claims "1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak."

Depends, Wikileaks at least seems to credibly have a stack of incriminating stuff on the big banks. Who know's what else people will pass along to them now it's been shown how effectively they can capture the worlds attention.

If I had some important secret documents to leak which provided evidence of wrongdoing on the part of government officials, I'd leak it to the New York Times or other major newspaper. They're the best place to go for stuff like that -- they have a huge readership, a staff who will dig into the surrounding issues, and a heck of a strong reputation (as opposed to ugly-website-run-by-creepy-alleged-rapist).

I'd only leak to wikileaks if I (for some reason) wanted to leak ten gigabytes of randomly selected secret documents of no particular consequence. Wikileaks is the open mic night of leaking -- it's where you find the random crap, not the big stories.

The NY Times would very likely not run with your leak. That's why WikiLeaks came to being.

No, they frequently run leaks which they think are in the public interest. And they have pretty low standards for what they think is in the public interest -- ultimately they just need to be able to come up with a good justification for believing it might be in the public interest, since their primary purpose is to sell newspapers.

They would refuse to leak random diplomatic cables which don't show any wrongdoing by anybody, though. (Although they're quite happy to publish a story about them if someone else is responsible for the leaking.)

Wikileaks' reputation is impeccable: it does what it says on the package, and has been the source for nearly uncountable major newspaper articles over the past few years because of the complete accuracy of its information. The NYT had Judith Miller.

Actually it doesn't do what it says on the package, because it's not actually a wiki any more, is it?

If I were the wikimedia foundation I'd be complaining about that.

edit: And on the point of accuracy... it would be an interesting prank to leak some fake documents to Wikileaks and see if you can get 'em to make a big fanfare about them. Preferably you'd fake enough documents so that they wouldn't really check them, and it would be several days into the media cycle before folks started to notice that some of the most incriminating memos were sent between parties such as "I. P. Freely" and "Amanda Hugnkiss".

it would be an interesting prank to leak some fake documents to Wikileaks and see if you can get 'em to make a big fanfare about them.

It's interesting that you think that they aren't already constantly being bombarded with false information via intelligence agencies as a tactic to discredit them.

It's interesting that you think that

is an annoying rhetorical tactic. Instead of explicitly suggesting P, which might require you to support the proposition P, you instead sneer at the possibility that someone might think not-P.

Actually in this case my main reason for believing not P is that they haven't been successfully trolled yet. If an intelligence agency did attempt this trick then they'd almost certainly succeed, because the Wikileaks crew are mere mortals and quite capable of being fooled by a clever fake.

If any intelligence agencies are reading this, though, and feel like offering me a job in the wikileaks-trolling department I'd be happy to accept it.

If an intelligence agency did attempt this trick then they'd almost certainly succeed, because the Wikileaks crew are mere mortals

So are the intelligence agencies.

Sure, but the game where Alice inserts random fake information into a stream and Bob tries to pick out that fake information is much harder for Alice than for Bob.

Mostly because Bob needs a 100% success rate while Alice wins with any success rate below 100%.

Oh, one more thing: Assange likes to whine every time he thinks someone is after him. If they'd picked up a bunch of fake CIA-planted information being submitted then they'd be talking about it, wouldn't they?

You're completely missing the point.

You wouldn't leak to The New York Times because they have no secure mechanism of any kind for leaking.

WikiLeaks is not just a two-bit news outlet looking for stories. They continue to maintain one of the most innovative and secure systems in the world for leaking sensitive materials.

It is to laugh! https://p10.secure.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/ssl/wikil...

Assange has repeatedly let his SSL certificates and PGP keys expire, had has had a series of completely insecure submission systems that have been disabled most of the time since he started whoring for donations a couple years ago.

If all goes accordingly, definitely Wikileaks. Imagine a world a fea years from now where every single country, and perhaps even cities have their own wikileaks site to keep politicians honest without doing bad things behind people's backs.

I'd definitely say that will have a much bigger impact. Besides what has Zuckerbeg doen this year that he hasn't done a year before?

You've always been able to leak stuff that matters to the media.

Wikileaks's main innovation is publishing leaks of stuff that don't matter.

I would only see chaos. Politics are dirty in nature. When you go into politics, basically, you should be ready to dirty your hand.

I wonder how Wikileaks would make politician honest. I correlate honest with lies. What Wikileaks exposed are not lies, they are secret data/info.

Exactly. Assange's influence has only become widely discussed within the last month. It seems he is more likely to be on track to be POTY in 2011 than to have been skipped over entirely.

Can you specify in more details what you think is the scale of Julian's impact? From media coverage it looks like the impact has been huge, but is it really? I am not against Julian, I would not object if they selected him instead of Mark, I am just not sure that until now the real impact (of Wikileaks) on how the world operates was that big.

I believe he's a harbinger of things to come. Not necessarily in the sense of new leaks coming from WikiLeaks, which has been fairly tame so far.

I think, though, that Julian's basically validated the idea that a.) it's possible to collect, vet, and release potentially damaging information about powerful entities and b.) people care when you do. We've had time periods like this in the past (eg. the Muckraker era at the turn of the 1900s, the Pentagon Papers from the early 70s, Watergate), but the last such era seems to have been over 30 years ago. In the last 10+ years, we seem to have accepted the idea that it's okay for government and corporations to spy on us, but not okay for us to spy on them.

Julian was just the guy who had the balls to say "Umm, two can play at this game" and follow through on it. He's validated the market. It's like Napster and Friendster: the services themselves failed, but they paved the way for iTunes and FaceBook, which have become huge.

Can you imagine what'll happen when some enterprising anarchist hacker hooks up spyware, a botnet, and a spam network? It's not terribly difficult to write malware that scans each infected computer for any documents and posts them as spam comments to blogs or sends them out as spam emails. The thing is - once the information is out there, it naturally gets collaboratively-filtered. The interesting tidbits will be forwarded on or posted to Reddit, while the boring stuff will be deleted as garden-variety spam.

I suspect that there's already malware out there that does exactly this, but instead of posting confidential info to random blogs, it just uplinks it to the Chinese government or some Russian mafia syndicate.

The impact of WikiLeaks is that it's turned a spotlight on the damage that can be done - and more important, the attention that can be gained - by leaking information. That makes it far more likely that some bright, naughty teenager is going to think "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if everything was out there?" and dump everything out there.

I'd give it to Julian over Mark because of the "Somebody would have done it anyway" factor.

The balance of power between governments and citizens has been changed forever. In 100 years everyone will remember Julian Assange; no one will remember Mark Zuckerberg. And that's true even if WikiLeaks were now to vanish; there will be dozens of replacements (like OpenLeaks).

I seriously doubt many will remember him three years from now. The most noise about him is related to his Sweden affairs not something truly remarkable he has done. And after listening to him on BBC I started to dislike him rather a lot. I may be terribly wrong, but my gut feeling is that his main agenda is personal fame, or something else, not common good.

What has he actually impacted? Whose lives are affected, really, by what he did? Facebook, for good or ill, actually affects many people lives, and he was in the news in addition.

Instead of Assange they could have done the 'anonymous' leakers since it's their information that is really on display.

Also, given the criteria where is Osama Bin Laden? His actions have done more to change the everyday world for people in the US than any other person in the last decade.

Time magazine considered Bin Laden, but decided he was a minor leader who got incredibly lucky in his plot. Guiliani got it instead.

And how silly does that look in hindsight? Person of the year, really?

I thought he was a runner up in 2001, which is the year he should've won.

Isn't it well known that Bradley Manning is the leaker?

If they were recognizing a person in a particular year, but took into account there past accomplishments also I think he is a decent choice. Just this year though nothing person of the year ground breaking has happened, with the movie coming out it's almost delayed recognition, when it was all happening not many actually knew it.

I didn't say it was a good choice, it's just their choice. For what it's worth, I agree that there were better options.

i also wondered why it was zuckenberg over assange.

He was a runner-up. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2...

I wonder if certain people and agencies had a hand in this?

I agree with what you're saying about the selection, but I have to disagree with Mark Zuckerberg being the most influential person in 2010 with regards to world events. Sure, Facebook is a huge company, and is still growing. Mark Zuckerberg has grown considerably as a leader (his recent interview with Jessica at Startup School was proof enough). But Facebook doesn't shape cultures, advance technology [1] or help solve some of the pressing problems of the world. In the end, people do need to connect to eachother, and facebook lets you do that - but the 10.000ft view is just a status/photo/updates sharing site. Mark set that in motion, but does that make him POTY? Maybe we need more people trying to make real impact.

[1] it does - I know - just not as much as certainly other things do

I suppose it's Time's little tradition so they can name whoever they want, but I still feel like they missed the mark on this one.

Most people would admit that Facebook is a pretty interesting phenomenon. That a few hundred million people are at least shallowly engaging with people they haven't seen in years is pretty remarkable. But where I disagree with Time is that I don't think Zuckerberg was a particularly necessary ingredient. Facebook hit the scene as basically a cleaner, better designed MySpace. Zuckerberg's execution was spot on, but frankly, a lot of people could have done it. A large part of Facebook's success was being at the right place at the right time. And once the network effect kicked in, it pretty much drives itself.

Assange on the other hand has put his ass on the line and managed to embarrass and disgruntle some of the most powerful players on the planet - ostensibly in the name of transparency. The implications of his actions are that world super powers are having to reconsider many of their assumptions about diplomacy and security, and that the world's citizenry are having to ponder the value and risks of free speech. Or at least they should be...

I actually suspect facebook succeeded in spite of Mark not because of him. If you look back to friendster et al, they all had very smart people trying to do fancy graph algorithm searches. They failed to deliver the basics that people wanted.

Mark I suspect isn't nearly as good a programmer as the press (or his company PR) makes him out to be. Early versions of the site were a simple PHP index app. Only now once they've hired significant talent has he started harping on and on about the "social graph". Simply put I don't think he was up to the level to even do graph traversals/searches/etc at that point.

If Mark had tried to do the graph stuff first, would he be just another corpse littering the landscape? I suspect so. So his incompetence was his lucky pot of gold.

There were a ton of websites trying to be Facebook, and really only Facebook succeeded. Give them a little credit, jeez.

Sometimes it's impeccable execution, sometimes is perfect strategy or exquisite timing, and yet, sometimes, it's like winning the lottery. Some people/companies, for reasons that defy logic, get incredibly lucky.

You are right that PotY is supposed to be about impact, regardless of for good or bad (though since this has caused controversy in the past, they've shied away from awarding it to "baddies" like Bin Laden in recent years).

However, I'd disagree with placing Deng Xiaoping in the same list as Hitler and Stalin. He's arguably the architect of modern China, and such a towering positive achievement is only mildly dented by his responsibility for the Tiananmen massacre (IMO).

I don't think the main point of the FSF article is to disagree with the choice. To me it sounds like FSF just took a chance to remind the general public about the issues they always try to publicize. The disagreement is probably just added for some extra publicity.

Maybe I have missed something, but what did Zuckerberg do to deserve the title this year?

He didn't publish an archive of secret governmental cables.

I understand that the people involved with advocacy organizations like the FSF, ACLU, and NRA are going to be unusually passionate about the respective issues. But articles like this make me hesitant to support the organization.

Paraphrased: "This individual/company/group is the root of all evil and is against every thing this organization fights for. You should boycott everything they do and cover your personal space with warnings about them. Tell all your friends."

Rather than doing this, I wish advocacy organizations like the FSF would take (and project) a measured response. ("Facebook in useful to a huge number of people, but we are very concerned that they are using their market clout to seriously infringe on the privacy of their users. To improve, Facebook should...")

I agree with you about being hesitant to support FSF. I think that they should primary working on providing free software alternatives to closed software, not to fight closed software or promote dislike towards them.

Definitely, but I also think that one of their most important roles is policy advocacy. Most voters aren't technologically educated, so there are few lobbying counterweights to the tech industry, which will naturally lead to entrenchment of the industry incumbents at the expense of privacy and freedom.

Let's be rational and look at the facts. Facebook has the technical ability to spy on all it's users, and more. Their revenues are ad-based. Targeted ads are all the rage. Conclusion: Facebook's very existence rely on massive spying.

There is no measured response. The facts themselves are too unbalanced for the FSF to appear measured without being overly generous to Facebook.

Let's be rational and look at the facts. Google has the technical ability to spy on all it's users, and more. Their revenues are ad-based. Targeted ads are all the rage. Conclusion: Google's very existence rely on massive spying.

I actually agree. That's why I left Gmail a year ago, and why I try to use alternative search engines as much as possible.

I don't think there is any common ground between the FSF and Facebook.

The FSF might use a different presentation for greater effect; but ultimately, the message is: the FSF doesn't want Facebook around any more. Period.

If so, that puts the FSF on the fringe and their support will be mostly limited to to the privacy/security-obsessed nerds.

I suspect one really good choice would have been Steve Jobs. 2010 was the year that tablets really took off. 2010 was also the year Apple's market capital exceeded Microsoft's. Perhaps next year, if Apple crosses Exxon Mobil's market cap?

(I realize market cap isn't a great metric in itself, but bringing Apple out of the 90s slump to where it is today, is a feat in itself. Becoming part of our culture and daily life, is quite another.)

IMO, this is a terribly-written piece, giving a very false impression of reality.

"Because so many sites — including TIME — use Facebook's user-tracking "Like" button, Zuckerberg is able to collect information about people who aren't even users of his site. These are precedents which hurt our ability to freely connect with each other"

Nope - it just hurts our ability to connect privately. Not the same thing.

"The fact that Facebook's code is hidden from view means that its users are not connecting directly with each other. They are speaking to Mr. Zuckerberg [...]"

What does Facebook being open-source or not have anything to do with it? Does Word being closed-source mean that everything I write in Word is really a communication to Microsoft?

Even worse, that sentence leads to this:

"witness the recent reports of Facebook's messaging service blocking messages based on the words and links in them, because those links point to services which Facebook would prefer we not discuss."

I'm assuming this is about Facebook blocking links to Lamebook. According to Tech Crunch, this went on for only a few hours. It was probably a bug/mistake - I can imagine the same thing happening from Gmail or any other mail provider. TC article: http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/22/facebook-censorship/

The lack of privacy do hurt our ability to freely connect, if only because of self censure. Surely you wouldn't tell the same things to your loved one if you were in public?

Facebook code being unknown let Zuckerberg be the man in the middle of every Facebook based communications. Facebook could log everything, for all we know. The sentence is accurate.

Censorship is a rather minor issue. It's ineffective because there are other channels, and it's risky because people are loud about that. I mostly worry about Spying, which is way less risky, way more effective, and way more dangerous.

You can only claim that Facebook hurts our ability to connect freely if that ability is less in the presence of Facebook than in its absence. I don't see how this is the case. Facebook provides new, less free ways to communicate, but these do not destroy the old ways. You're right that you wouldn't tell the same things to your loved one if you were in public, but that is why those conversations will remain in private.

> […] but these do not destroy the old ways.

Actually they do, indirectly. It's part of a nasty feedback cycle: the progressive centralization of the internet. The internet is supposed to have no centre. Centralizing it effectively mean shutting it down, and get back to something like AOL.

The feedback cycle itself is quite simple. First, people start not to use the whole internet. Like, they don't send e-mail (they ask their mail provider to do it for them), they don't host a web site, etc. Second, ISPs start to restrict their customers: they filter the SMTP port, they offer an asymmetric bandwidth, and some don't even give you a public IP! They get away with all those restrictions because too few people felt them in the first place. That leads to situations that would be unfathomable otherwise, like MegaUpload replacing Peer to peer for file sharing.

The ultimate conclusion of this trend is a connected world divided in 2 categories: (Big) companies, which will have full internet connexions, and the regular folk, which will have nothing but the outgoing HTTP port open. Which means that to do anything, a user will have to find some central hub first, and go through that. Facebook is one of those hubs. Facebook is part of this trend.

With a quality network, some services wouldn't have any reason to exist at all: Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, MSN, MegaUpload… Give everyone a symmetric bandwith with all ports open and a Freedom Box, and those services are all toast. Give everyone a convenient, secured, asymmetric, pseudo internet connexion, and our freedoms are toast.

This Person of the Year thing is like Obama's Nobel Prize on a lesser scale. An organization with a fairly high level of public respect bestows an award/recognition that is unmerited and reeks of political bias. This causes many to question the organization's integrity, which upon further investigation never existed in the first place.

That is one disturbing site, though it tries to make its point on how much it dislikes the article :)

The product of a bored afternoon... The article seemed like a prime target for its usage :)

Close, but they failed to discuss the real problem with Facebook. Privacy is less than a nonissue. The real problem is that it is a black hole: anything more than 2 weeks old is basically irretrievable ('download your information' includes only wall posts, not comments). They also failed to mention why Facebook is successful: something like it is practically required for most women to communicate over the internet.

"something like [Facebook] is practically required for most women to communicate over the internet."

Can you please elaborate? I honestly don't know what you mean.

Do you mean that women prefer to communicate in this particular medium?

From the '80s until today, BBSs, the usenet, mailing lists, and other online interest groups have been overwhelmingly male. Myspace was the first large forum to achieve a high female/male ratio. The key ingredients seem to be: 1. photographs to identify correspondents (rather than addresses) 2. reciprocal relationships - women don't want anybody to be able to contact them 3. many:many conversations (such wall posts)

I wish the Free Software Foundation would only focus on Free Software. I don't like Facebook, but I'd prefer that my donation money be spent on paying someone to work on Emacs rather than making "Dislike" buttons.

Facebook is harmful, but people don't care about being harmed or losing their freedom. Educating them is just a waste of money.

One year ago, I used Gmail. So, even if you used free software and hosted your mail server at home, writing an e-mail allowed Big Google to watch you. Facebook is similar, though easier to avoid.

Now I host my mail server on a virtual machine on a small hosting provider that I somewhat trust. I'll host it myself soon (I've just received my new Sheeva Plug). So, if you write to me now, your privacy will be enhanced compared to one year ago. So, me quitting Gmail could be a direct improvement to your privacy.

And that's partly thanks to the FSF's advocacy.

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a "don't let big corporations spy on you" foundation... I'm just saying that it hurts the Free Software message when all the Free Software Foundation talks about is why everything is bad except gNewSense.

I will just mentally pretend that the FSF is just GNU, then I am happy :)

According to the popular vote Mark is ranked #10 where as Julian Assange is ranked #1: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2...

Even if it wasn't Julian Assange... any of the other individuals in the top 10 list except for Mark Zuckerberg would of made a much better "Person of the Year."

I think we're all well aware that internet votes are not a particularly good way of deciding anything. This is why Hank, The Angry Drunken Dwarf was not in fact selected as Who Weekly's most beautiful person in... whatever year that was.

Seriously though, you reckon Lady Gaga and the Chilean Miners are more man-of-the-year material than Zuckerberg? One is a random pop star, the other is a feel-good story which nobody will remember in 2012.

It's true that Zuckerberg's impact may have been more in 2008 or 2009 than 2010, but since he wasn't honoured in either of those years I think he's a fair choice this year.

One can put together a very fair rogue's gallery from Time Magazine's persons of the year. For the top dozen or so, Mark Zuckerberg is not fit to unlace their jackboots.

There were so many other stories this year bigger than both Facebook and Wikileaks.

What about the engineers who stopped the BP oil well? (Or it could negative about the engineers that screwed up the BP oil well?

Or Healthcare Reform? I know Republicans love to hate her but can anyone deny Nancy Pelosi's impact on passing that law? It will have the biggest long term effect on American's lives of anything that happened this year.

Unless it gets repealed circa 2012, which is what I'm betting on. (Or if not a full repeal, a major dismantling of large sections.)

Remember the massive uphill process, complete with 60-40 supermajorities in the Senate, horse trading, and earmarks that was needed to get health care reform passed? Any repeal would have the exact same uphill struggle.

If FSF is right and Mark really "set a terrible precedent for our future", then something like that is exactly what makes a candidate for a "Time's Person of the Year". They basically admit that the choice was reasonable.

If we are talking about disliking something, what I dislike about FSF is their arrogance showed by criticizing various software creations, without being able to create worthwhile alternative.

While the choice itself is reasonable by that standard, I doubt Times did it to criticize Zuckerberg. Most likely, they praise him.

One of the core principles of the FSF is that proprietary software is worthless regardless of its other merits. And they do work on alternatives. It's just more expensive and less visible than advocacy.

As usual, Wondermark said it best: http://wondermark.com/368/

I think we're starting to need a "dislike" button for HN submissions. How does this get to #1? Time is a private publication. If you don't like its choices, don't read it. If you have to vent about it, you'll find a lot of friends in Reddit.

There's a certain irony in what you just wrote.

I don't think so - in HN we create the content. If Time editors have a discussion about the magazine's choice for Man of the Year, it's different then when readers do. (BTW how many commenters here actually read Time?)

Would FSF really use a "dislike" button if it were available?

Not sure why inventing the electronic equivalent of crack cocaine is a good reason to become POTY.. Assange is no doubt more important and would have been the best choice.

If nothing else the FSF is persistent. I think it's hard with social, social to be useful generally has to be all inclusive, so for a more complicated free version of social to take off everyone would have to be a lot more into programming and tech.

I think there will always be a small set of companies at the center of social, is Facebook a good gatekeeper? Questionable, we could have a lot worse though.

Facebook is popular. So what? Internet porn is also very popular and changed the way many people live their lives. People use Facebook primarily to upload pictures of themselves drunk at some party and leave trivial comments on their friends' pages. How exactly is this a worthwhile contribution to society?

I support the FSF's overall philosophy, and they raise important privacy issues here, but the "control over our data" part is dated. Things improved a lot this year. I think the FriendFeed acquisition had a lot of influence. Thanks, Bret Taylor et al!

Last time I checked, Facebook stills stores your data on their own data centres, unencrypted (or at least they have the keys). You still have zero control over that data.

By the way, the same goes for web based e-mail.

The article raised three concerns "for our control over the software we use to interact with each other, for control over our data, and for our privacy"

By itself "control over our data" could mean privacy, or it could mean the ability to export our own data and use it as we please. But if you take it to mean privacy, the third item is redundant.

What kind of control over the data on Facebook's servers do you need? If they rsync some of your photos from one place to another in their data centers do they need to drop you a note?

Keep in mind that you can always export all the data on your Facebook profile as a .zip file on demand. It's your data at the end of the day.

Honest question: does that really include all of your data? All the messages, comments, friends, any friend ID or contact info (email addresses, IM names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.)?

In other words, is it enough data that you can just export and jump ship to another social network without much interruption (assuming some reasonable transformation effort for the data)?

I need to be able to guarantee the privacy of my data when appropriate (assuming I trust my friends, of course). With Facebook I can't, because (1) they can read everything, and (2) I don't trust them not to.

To fix that problem, Facebook needs to become a-centred. But that would be throwing away their busyness model along with their data-centres.

Someone should give the PR Team at Facebook a big fat bonus for making this happen for 2010.

Do we really care about who is person of the year?

The inevitable debate of someone-else-should-have-been-Man-Of-The-Year is part of the December news cycle.

I doubt Time will ever pick anyone that nobody complains about, and if they ever did then they'd probably be disappointed to find that their circulation was way down.

I think Zuckerberg is about as good a pick as any. If it were Assange then I'd accuse Time of recentism, since hardly anyone even know who he was back in June, and we may mostly have forgotten by next June.

Time's Man of the year no longer matters. Clearly it should've been Assange.

Bradley Manning? Or do they have to wait until he goes mad in solitary?

Where's the FSF dislike button?

So does Zuckerberg have to give 200 million in "facebook stock" to Detroit schools to win the award next year?

Not that I like or hate zuckerberg or face book, but just a point to think upong I wonder why it wants to use the facebook - analogy of (dis)Like on the facebook founder itself. If it wants to downrate the article, why didn't it use some other means to do it ? The image itself shows the impact of facebook.

Perhaps in the past Time might have been a reputable news organization, but its just part of the corporate oligarchy now. Of course they awarded it to one of their biggest link feeds. Hell they probably negotiated some kind of kick-back.

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