Two years ago, the world wondered how a newly-elected president like Barack Obama could qualify and win the Nobel Peace Prize. Even the president questioned the honor. This year, that same president might also question why WikiLeaks is now a candidate for that same distinction. Moreover, in a year that couldn't get enough of Facebook, could that honor go to a dark horse, like the world's largest social network?
According to a Reuters release, Norwegian parliamentarian, Snorre Valen who nominated the anti-secrecy Web site believes that Julian Assange's social media news organization is worthy of such an award because he feels its "one of the most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency" in the world.
"By disclosing information about corruption, human rights abuses and war crimes, WikiLeaks is a natural contender for the Nobel Peace Prize," Valen said. The Norwegian Nobel Committee accepts nominations for what is considered one of the top honors up until February 1, although the five panel members have until the end of the month to submit their own proposals. Members of national parliaments like Valen, in addition to professors of law or political science and previous winners are among those allowed to make nominations.
President ObamaThe Nobel Prize doesn't always award this distinction to obvious candidates. While bestowing the prize toLiu Xiaobo Wikieaks would most likely provoke protests from many camps, in addition to the criticism regarding Obama's win in '09, last years winner, the jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo was probably one of the most controversial choices in recent history.
WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange was also considered for another distinction earlier in December, 2010. However while he was the number-one candidate in the popular vote conducted by Time Magazine, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg actually was the surprise winner of Times' 2010 Person of the Year - even though he ranked 10th in the magazine's readership poll.
Time Magazine Readership Poll
Might the same thing happen again? Could the assembly of over 600+ million people joined together in a global community qualify the world's largest social network as a potential winner of the Peace Prize?
Chances are probably slim, but according to the Reuters' report, it was reported that Nobel watchers believe that the award could highlight the growing role of "specialist Internet sites and broad access social media in bringing about world change." While they were justifying a WikiLeaks win - the same could be said about Facebook.
Facebook has played an important role in mobilizing people in countries with a tight grip on the official media and news outlets, such as what is being played out in Egypt today - but also during the Iranian Election protests in '09, and the censorship issues emanating from the Great Firewall of China.
Although theoretically possible, no individual has won the peace prize more than once. However organizations like the Red Cross have won three times. Might WikiLeaks or Facebook be a winner this year? Even though, in some respects the two social media sites couldn't be further apart from one another?
Julian Assange vs Mark Zuckerberg