Handicapping the Nobels

We make wild guesses at Friday's winner so you don’t have to.

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548773_111006_facebook2.jpg

Facebook and Twitter

Julian Assange is too icky. It's too hard to pick one individual out of the Arab Spring. I predict the Norwegian Nobel Committee will choose to honor social media for its role both in the uprisings and as an international communications tool. Because Mark Zuckerberg isn't really the most passionate defender of democracy, I think the committee will award it to the companies rather than any individuals. (There's precedent for this with the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and several other NGOs.) Expect howls of outrage from online privacy advocates and the Arab activists themselves.

Facebook and Twitter

Julian Assange is too icky. It’s too hard to pick one individual out of the Arab Spring. I predict the Norwegian Nobel Committee will choose to honor social media for its role both in the uprisings and as an international communications tool. Because Mark Zuckerberg isn’t really the most passionate defender of democracy, I think the committee will award it to the companies rather than any individuals. (There’s precedent for this with the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and several other NGOs.) Expect howls of outrage from online privacy advocates and the Arab activists themselves.

Odds: 8:1

-Joshua E. Keating, Associate Editor

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

The April 6 Youth Movement

My money’s on the April 6 movement, the Egyptian Facebook group that helped organize and plan the protests that brought down Hosni Mubarak. While obviously many diverse groups, individuals, and organizations have played important roles in the Arab Spring, April 6 checks all the right boxes: innovative, secular, peaceful, and media-savvy. Several of its leaders, including Ahmed Maher and Israa Abdel Fattah, have become minor global celebrities in their own right, and no doubt the Nobel Committee is looking to give the Egyptian revolutionaries a boost at a time when they sorely need it.

Odds: 4:1

-Blake Hounshell, Managing Editor

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Tawakkol Karman 

Human rights activist, journalist, and the face of the Yemeni protest movement. She’s Yemen’s most vocal activist, a mother of three, and a game-changer both in promoting nonviolent revolution in a traditionally violent place and in shattering perceptions of women in Yemen.

Odds: 35:1

-Suzanne Merkelson, Web Producer 

-/AFP/Getty Images

Wael Ghonim

For being one of the peaceful, connected activists who helped spark the Egyptian revolution.

Odds: 3:1

-David Kenner, Associate Editor

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg

The seminal moment of this year is clearly the Arab Spring, and if there’s one thing that unleashed the independence movements — especially in Tunisia and Egypt — it was Facebook. From the August 6 Youth Movement to the Mohamed Bouazizi remembrance page, Facebook brought activists together, helping them plan the demonstrations out of sight of government censors. But the story doesn’t end there: As Tunisian authorities attempted to hack activists’ accounts, Facebook sprang to the rescue with a technical fix making sure that passwords were doubly secure. By the time that Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, there was little the authorities could do — so they shut down Egypt’s Internet access completely. Want more proof of Zuckerberg’s huge role in uprisings? His face and company were plastered on signs and spray-painted on walls from Benghazi to Bahrain. So, will he get it? Probably not. Except for a few notable exceptions, Zuckerberg has tried to remain apolitical — and it’s not as if the billionaire 20-something tech giant really needs another 10 million Swedish kronor.

Odds: 50:1

-Ben Pauker, Senior Editor 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Wael Ghonim

The Egyptian Google engineer became an improbable icon of nonviolent revolution during the winter of Egypt’s discontent, following a short stint in prison — complete with a by-all-accounts harrowing interrogation — during the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. But will the prize committee choose to honor an individual out of a movement whose defining characteristic was its leaderlessness?

Odds: 25:1

-Charles Homans, Features Editor 

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Vaclav Havel

Admittedly, he’s a long shot. But Havel, who has stood firm as a champion of human rights for over four decades, deserves his moment. From his days as a leader of the Velvet Revolution to his strong support for dissidents such as Liu Xiaobo (last year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient, currently being detained in China), Havel has become a global moral authority. He even offered a rare note of caution after Obama’s 2009 Nobel win, saying, “When the fresh holder of the Nobel Peace delays his meeting with the Dalai Lama until after he has visited continental China, then he makes a small, tiny, and little obvious compromise. The question is if great and fateful compromises don’t have their preludes, early beginnings, first undercurrents in such small [compromises].” Nominated repeatedly, Havel is the always-a-bridesmaid, never-a-bride contender — but here’s hoping he finally has his turn.

Odds: 40:1

-Cara Parks, Deputy Managing Editor 

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Kedar Pavgi is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

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