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Facebook CEO is Time's Person of the Year for "Wiring Together a 12th of Humanity"

Despite a less-than-flattering depiction in this year's hit movie "The Social Network," 26-year old CEO and creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has just been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2010.  He is among the youngest winners of this honor, Charles Lindbergh was the first and youngest recipient at 25, and Queen Elizabeth was accorded the honor at 26, "but unlike the Queen, he did not inherit an empire; he created one," (the Queen set up her own Facebook page this year).  If you are wondering why Time gave the honor to Zuckerberg rather than some of the prominent runners up like The Tea Party, Julian Assange (the brains behind WikiLeaks), or the Chilean Miners, just consider some of these staggering statistics about Facebook and what they mean to us as human beings communicating in ways not possible before Zuckerberg created this network in a Harvard dorm room in February 2004 (see more about Facebook statistics):

  • Facebook has over 550,000,000 members
  • 700,000 new members are added every day
  • 1 out of 12 people on planet Earth are on Facebook
  • 75 languages are spoken on the network
  • 70% of Facebook users are outside the US
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world
  • 1 out of every 4 American page views last month were on Facebook (25% of all Internet page views!)
  • 50% of Facebook users log on daily
  • Average users have 130 friends - interesting sidebar from Time magazine essay about Facebook: "Evolutionary biologists suggest there is a correlation between the size of the cerebral neocortex and the number of social relationships a primate species can have. Humans have the largest neocortex and the widest social circle - about 150, according to the scientist Robin Dunbar."
  • Over 700 billion minutes per month are spent on Facebook (the average lifespan of a human is only 40,840,000 minutes)
  • Average users make 90 contributions per month to Facebook (more than 30 billion pieces of content shared each month)

These statistics and Time's awarding Zuckerberg the 2010 honor demonstrate that online social networking is causing a monumental change in human behavior both on and offline.  It's changing the way we share, communicate, keep in touch, shop, find out about things, and conduct business.  When Facebook hits 1 billion members what will it mean for us then?  As 2011 ushers in a new year of promises and predictions one thing is for certain: it is no longer a question of whether your business or law firm should be using social media, rather the question is "how are you using it."

Even in an industry like law, which many would call "tech and risk adverse," the opportunities presented by Facebook and online social networking are huge.  From business development to evidence gathering, lawyers need to know their way around social media, and the 2010 Time Person of the Year choice confirms this fact even more.  We are entering a new age where a whole generation will not even remember life before the Internet (Zuckerberg's is one of the last generations who will).  The planet is only going to become more wired, not less, and for the legal profession this means new challenges and opportunities.  This is something we've spoken about for the past two years now in the groups Social Media for Lawyers and Social Media Policy, and on our Twitter account MHTweets.  Now the ante has been upped and I think we are going to see things move faster than ever before, especially for lawyers.  What do you think?


Posted on behalf of Mike Mintz  via Mintz's Wordz: Straight Talk on the Law