Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, beating Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who topped a readers poll for the award.

The prestigious award – given to the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and news during the past year – has only once before bestowed on someone as young as the 26-year-old social networking visionary.

Zuckerberg founded Facebook back in 2004 when he was a student at Harvard University. Facebook went on to eclipse MySpace as the world’s most popular social networking site and now has over 550 million users. One out of every twelve people on the planet has a Facebook account.

One of the world’s youngest billionaires, Zuckerberg isn’t afraid to part with his cash. Earlier this year he pledged $100 million over five years to the Newark school system in New Jersey.

The Time editor said that Mark Zuckerberg was chosen as the Time Person Of The Year, “for changing how we all live our lives in ways that are innovative and even optimistic. Facebook is one of the largest human institutions ever created.”

The award was given to Zuckerberg despite Time readers voting overwhelmingly in a poll for Wikileaks head Julian Assange to be named Person of the Year.

After receiving the award, Zuckerberg posted on his wall: “This is a real honor and it is recognition of how our little team is building something that hundreds of millions of people want to be a part of. I’m just happy to be a part of it too.”

Top 10 readers’ choices for Time Person of the Year

1. Julian Assange

2. Recep Tayyip Erdogan

3. Lady Gaga

4. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

5. Glenn Beck

6. Barack Obama

7. Steve Jobs

8. The Chilean Miners

9. The Unemployed American

10. Mark Zuckerberg