TIME magazine names 'The Silence Breakers' as 2017 Person of the Year

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Time magazine has named the social movement aimed at raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault, epitomized by the #MeToo social media hashtag, as the most influential "person" in 2017, the publication announced on Wednesday.

"This is the fastest moving social change we've seen in decades and it began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women - and some men, too - who came forward to tell their own stories," Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal told NBC News, referring to them as "the silence breakers."

The recognition comes amid a wave of public allegations of sexual misconduct that have targeted some of the most prominent men in U.S. politics, media and entertainment, leading to multiple firings and investigations.

TIME's Person of the Year recipients through the years:

93 PHOTOS
All of TIME's Person of the Year recipients
See Gallery
All of TIME's Person of the Year recipients

**Click through the following slides to see every TIME Person of the Year recipient since the tradition began in 1927.** 

(Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

2017: The Silence Breakers, #MeToo Movement

(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

2016: President-elect Donald Trump

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

2015: German Chancellor Angela Merkel

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

2014: Ebola fighters

(Photo by Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

2013: Pope Francis

(Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

2012: President Barack Obama

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

2011: The Protester

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

2010: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

(REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

2009: Ben Bernanke

  • Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the recession 

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

2008: President-elect Barack Obama

(REUTERS/Shephard Fairey/TIME/Handout). 

2007: Russian President Vladimir Putin

(REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

2006: 'You'

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

2005: Good Samaritans

  • Bill Gates
  • Bono
  • Melinda Gates

(REUTERS/Gregory Heisler for Time/Handout)

2004: President George W. Bush

(Photo by The Washington Post/Getty Images)

2003: The American solider

(REUTERS/Erik de Castro)

2002: The Whistleblowers

  • Sherron Watkins, Enron
  • Cynthia Cooper, WorldCom 
  • Coleen Rowley, the FBI

(REUTERS/Win McNamee)

2001: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani

(KATHY WILLENS/AFP/Getty Images)

2000: President-elect George W. Bush

(Reuters Photographer/Reuters)

1999: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

(REUTERS/Gus Ruelas)

1998: President Bill Clinton and independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr

  • Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives as a result of Starr's investigation

(Photo: Reuters)

1997: Founder of Intel Andrew Grove

(Photo by Alain BUU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

1996: HIV/Aids researcher Dr. David Ho

(Photo by Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1995: House Speaker Newt Gingrich 

(Photo by John Zich/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

1994: Pope John Paul II 

(Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

1993: The Peacekeepers

  • Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
  • African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela
  • South African President Frederik W. de Klerk
  • Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat 

(Photo credit should read H.O/AFP/Getty Images)

1992: President-elect Bill Clinton

(Photo by Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

1991: Founder of CNN Ted Turner 

(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

1990: President George H.W. Bush

(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

1989: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union  

(ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov)

1988: The endangered earth

(REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)

1987: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev

(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

1986: Philippines' President Corazon Aquino

(Photo by Sandro Tucci/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

1985: Chinese communist leader Deng Xiaoping

(Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1984: Peter Ueberroth

  • The man behind the Los Angeles Olympics

(REUTERS/Robert Galbraith RG/GAC)

1983: President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Yuri Andropov

(Photo via Getty)

1982: The computer

(Photo by f8 Imaging/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1981: Polish labor activist Lech Walesa

(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

1980: President-elect Ronald Reagan

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1979: Ruhollah Khomeini, Supreme religious leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

(JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)

1978: Deng Xiaoping, Chinese revolutionary and statesman

(Universal History Archive/ UIG via Getty Images)

1977: President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat 

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1976: President-elect Jimmy Carter

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1975: American Women
  • Susan Brownmiller
  • Kathleen Byerly 
  • Alison Cheek 
  • Jill Conway 
  • Betty Ford
  •  Ella Grasso 
  • Carla Hills
  • Barbara Jordan
  • Billie Jean King
  • Carol Sutton
  • Susie Sharp
  • Addie L. Wyatt
(Getty Images)

1974: King Faisal of Saudi Arabia

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1973: Chief District Judge John J. Sirica 

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1972: President Richard Nixon with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

1971: President Richard Nixon 

(Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1970: German Chancellor Willy Brandt

(Photo by Rudolf Dietrich/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

1969: The Middle Americans

(Photo by Vernon Merritt III/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1968: Apollo 8 astronauts

  • James Lovell
  • William Anders
  • Frank Borman

(Photo by NASA/Interim Archives/Getty Images)

1967: President Lyndon B. Johnson

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1966: Men and women aged 25 and under, 'Baby Boomers'

(Photo by Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

1965: General William Westmorland

  • Senior commander of American troops in Vietnam (1964-1968)

(Tim Page/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1964: President-elect Lyndon B. Johnson

(Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1963: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1962: Pope John XXIII 

(Photo by Hank Walker/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1961: President-elect John F. Kennedy 

(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

1960: US Scientists

  • George Beadle
  • Charles Draper
  • John Enders
  • Donald A. Glaser
  • Joshua Lederberg
  • Willard Libby
  • Linus Pauling
  • Edward Purcell
  • Isidor Rabi
  • Emilio Segre
  • William Shockley
  • Edward Teller
  • Charles Townes
  • James Van Allen
  • Robert Woodward

(Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1959: President Dwight D. Eisenhower

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1958: President of France Charles de Gaulle

(Photo by REPORTERS ASSOCIES\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

1957: Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev

  • Politician who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War

(Photo by: Universal History Archive/ UIG via Getty Images)

1956: Hungarian freedom fighters

(Photo by Michael Rougier/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1955: GM executive vice-president Harlow Curtice 

(Photo by Leonard Mccombe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

1954: Secretary of State John Foster Dulles

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1953: Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of Germany

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1952: Queen Elizabeth II

(Photo by Ron Bell/PA Images via Getty Images)

1951: Prime Minister Of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh

(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

1950: The American Fighting Man

  • Signified troops fighting during the Korean War

(Photo by Breeding/US Army/National Archives/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1949: Winston Churchill, English statesman, author and prime minister

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1948: President Harry Truman 

(Photo by James Whitmore/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

1947: Secretary of State George Marshall, Jr.

(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

1946: Secretary of State James F. Byrnes

(Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

1945: President Harry Truman

  • He put an end to World War II by using the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945.

(Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)

1944: General Dwight D. Eisenhower

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1943: US Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall

(Photo by Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1942: Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

(Photo ITAR-TASS)

1941: President Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • The president called the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 'a date which will live in infamy.'

(Photo by Thomas D. Mcavoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1940: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

(Photo by ullstein bild via Getty Images)

1939: Joseph Stalin,  Secretary General of the All-Union Communist Party

(Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

1938: Adolf Hitler

(Photo by Lothar Ruebelt / ullstein bild via Getty Images)

1937: General Chiang Kai-Shek and his wife, Mei-Ling Soong

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1936: Wallis Simpson

  • Well known in London society, she met Edward, Prince of Wales in 1931, She obtained a divorce in 1936, the year of his accession, and he made it plain to the British government that he was determined to marry her, even if it meant giving up the throne. They married in 1937 in France, the Royal Family did not accept her until the late 1960s. 

(Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

1935: Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia

(Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

1934: President Franklin D. Roosevelt

(Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

1933: General Hugh S. Johnson 

  • Speech writer for Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Named head of National Recovery Administration by FDR

(Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

1932: President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt

(Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

1931: French Prime Minister Pierre Laval

(Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

1930: Mahatma Ghandi 

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

1929: Owen D. Young

  • His 'Young Plan' settled German reparations debts after WWI

(Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

1928: Walter Chrysler

  • American automobile manufacturer
  • Built the Chrysler Building in New York in 1928

(Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

1927: American aviator Charles Lindbergh

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

As more people made their accusations public, other individuals also shared their own stories of assault and harassment, often with posts on social media platforms using the hashtag #MeToo.

"I could never had envisioned something that would change the world. I was trying to change my community," Tarana Burke, who created the hashtag, told NBC. "This is just the start. It's not just a moment, it's a movement. Now the work really begins." U.S. President Donald Trump, who was Time's person of the year in 2016, was the first runner-up this year, followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Felsenthal said.

Other finalists included U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the election that Trump won; North Korean President Kim Jong Un; "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins; and football player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick.

Time's annual distinction recognizes the person, group, thing or idea that it has determined had the greatest influence on events for the year.

RELATED: A look at this year's shortlist

11 PHOTOS
TIME Person of the Year shortlist
See Gallery
TIME Person of the Year shortlist

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

"Dreamers" -- undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents as children who had been protected under the Obama-era DACA program, which the Trump administration has plans to end

(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Patty Jenkins, 'Wonder Woman' director and the first woman to direct a film that made over $100 million in its first weekend

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Kim Jong Un

(Photo via KCNA/via REUTERS)

Colin Kaepernick

(Photo by Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

#MeToo movement for survivors of sexual harassment and assault

(Photo via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Robert Mueller, special counsel investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia

(Photo credit SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

(Photo credit FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Xi Jinping

(Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.