Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg up for the Nobel Peace Prize?
Mark Zuckerberg was named Time's Man of the Year in 2010. Could he be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize next?
It may seem unlikely, but on Wednesday Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, made some provocative comments that fueled speculation Zuckerberg could be a contender for the prestigious award.
"For me and the committee it is quite obvious if you look at the world today and see what is happening out there," Jagland said in an interview with the Associated Press. "What are the major forces pushing the world in the right direction?"
Could he be referring to a Web platform that allows users to connect around the world?
The Nobel foundation, which sponsors the prize, does not list the names of the contenders, but it has publicly stated that it received 241 nominations -- 188 individuals and 53 organizations. The prize is being awarded Friday.
There are thousands of people who are eligible to nominate contenders, and it's entirely possible that Zuckerberg was nominated.
Also, keep in mind that this was the year of the Arab uprisings, a revolution that some observers say was possible only because of the way online platforms like Facebook and Twitter allowed protesters to connect.
Zuckerberg himself has downplayed Facebook's role in the Arab Spring.
"It would be extremely arrogant for any specific technology company to claim any meaningful role," he said at the e-G8 summit in Paris earlier this year. "The thing that was both necessary and sufficient was a population of people who felt very strongly that change needed to happen."
But perhaps that humility makes him all the more ... Nobel?
National Review writer Jay Nordlinger, who has a book on the history of the Nobel Peace Prize coming out this March, said it's possible that Zuckerberg could win this year.
"I wouldn't bet on him, but I wouldn't bet against him," he said. He said Zuckerberg would be an "out there" choice, even for the famously eccentric Nobel prize committee.
"They've given the Nobel Peace Prize to a micro-lender and a global warmer campaigner and other environmentalists, so they can give it to just about anybody," he said. "The concept of peace in Oslo is that elastic."
-- Deborah Netburn
Image: Is this the face of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner? Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images