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【卫报】损害健康、威胁民主,谷歌和脸书这锅背得冤枉吗?


社交媒体是一把双刃剑。一方面,它给人们带来方便、快捷以及丰富的内容;另一方面,它也给人们带来一些危害。这些危害正逐步显现出来:社交媒体上瘾和个体既有观点固化。对于庞大到没有竞争对手的谷歌和脸书而言,应该对这些负面影响承担怎样的责任?政府和立法者又该如何应对?


社交媒体:公众健康与民主之伤


作者:Roger McNamee

译者:赵萌萌&邵海灵

校对:王津雨

策划:邹世昌


How Facebook and Google threaten public health and democracy

社交媒体:公众健康与民主之伤

本文选自 The Guardian | 取经号原创翻译

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In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook’s original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children.

本周,脸书首任总裁西恩·帕克(Sean Parker)接受美国新媒体Axios采访时承认,脸书故意让用户对社交媒体上瘾,并对这种成瘾性设计给儿童带来的危害表示了歉意。

inflict / ɪnˈflɪkt / v. ~ sth (on sb) cause (a blow, penalty, etc) to be suffered (by sb) 使(某人)遭受(打击﹑ 惩罚等)


This admission, by one of the architects of Facebook, comes on the heels of last week’s hearings by Congressional committees about Russian interference in the 2016 election, where the general counsels of Facebook, Alphabet (parent of Google and YouTube), and Twitter attempted to deflect responsibility for manipulation of their platforms.

上周,美国国会数个委员会就俄罗斯干预2016年美国大选进行了听证会。脸书、推特(Twitter)以及谷歌与 YouTube 的母公司 Alphabet 的总法律顾问试图在会上推卸责任,否认对社交媒体平台进行操纵。紧接着,脸书的元老之一就坦白了社交媒体故意让用户上瘾的事实。

come on the heels of : If something comes on the heels of something, it follows very soon after it.


The term “addiction” is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing.

“上瘾”这个词绝非危言耸听。用户平均一天查看手机的次数为150次,刷动态和点击的次数就更多了,达到了2000多次,其中使用频率最高的应用都是脸书与Alphabet旗下的,且使用量仍在不断增加。

 

In terms of scale, Facebook and YouTube are similar to Christianity and Islam respectively. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, 1.3 billion check in every day. More than 1.5 billion people use YouTube. Other services owned by these companies also have user populations of 1 billion or more.

就规模来说,脸书的用户数量与基督教信众人数相当,YouTube则与伊斯兰教相当。每月使用脸书的用户超过了20亿人,每天的访问量达到了13亿。YouTube的用户数量超过了15亿。这些公司旗下的其他应用服务也有10亿多的用户在使用。

 

Facebook and Alphabet are huge because users are willing to trade privacy and openness for “convenient and free.” Content creators resisted at first, but user demand forced them to surrender control and profits to Facebook and Alphabet.

脸书与Alphabet之所以规模巨大,是因为用户愿意用公开隐私来交换“免费、便捷”的使用体验。内容创作者一开始是拒绝的,但用户的需求迫使他们只能把控制权与利润拱手让给这两大平台。

 

The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy. The issue, however, is not social networking or search. It is advertising business models. Let me explain.

然而,令人悲哀的真相是:为了追逐巨额利润,脸书与Alphabet对公众做出了极不负责的行为。他们有意把政治宣传与博彩业惯用的说服手段与技术相结合,这种方式对公众健康和民主都造成了威胁。但是,问题并不在于社交网络和搜索引擎,而在于社交媒体的广告运营模式。下面我来解释一下。

 

From the earliest days of tabloid newspapers, publishers realized the power of exploiting human emotions. To win a battle for attention, publishers must give users “what they want,” content that appeals to emotions, rather than intellect. Substance cannot compete with sensation, which must be amplified constantly, lest consumers get distracted and move on.

从早期的八卦小报开始,出版人就意识到,利用人的感情可以产生何等之大的力量。要想抓住眼球,出版人就必须给用户“他们想要的东西”——可以引起情感共鸣的内容,而不是理性的知识。理性是无法与感性抗衡的,而情感需要不时加以强化,这样用户才不会被别的东西吸引,而把这部分内容略过。

tabloida newspaper this size concentrating on sensational and lurid news, usually heavily illustrated. 专门报道耸人听闻消息的小画报


“If it bleeds, it leads” has guided editorial choices for more than 150 years, but has only become a threat to society in the past decade, since the introduction of smartphones. Media delivery platforms like newspapers, television, books, and even computers are persuasive, but people only engage with them for a few hours each day and every person receives the same content.

“只要有流血,就能上头条。”这条选题准则作为媒体的座右铭,已有150多年了。但直到最近十年,由于智能手机逐渐普及,它才对社会构成了威胁。像报纸、书本、电视以至电脑这样的信息传送平台,虽然都很有说服力,但人们每天花在这些平台上的时间很有限,而且每个人看到的内容都是一样的。

 

Today’s battle for attention is not a fair fight. Every competitor exploits the same techniques, but Facebook and Alphabet have prohibitive advantages: personalization and smartphones. Unlike older media, Facebook and Alphabet know essentially everything about their users, tracking them everywhere they go on the web and often beyond.

但如今,争夺关注的战役并不公平。虽然参与争夺的每一方吸引用户的手段都是一样的,但脸书与 Alphabet 有着其他平台无法比拟的优势:个性化定制与智能手机。与传统媒体不同,这两家公司基本掌握了用户的所有信息。只要用户一接入网络,就能知道他们的踪迹,且两家公司所做的,往往不止是追踪而已。

prohibitive / proˋhɪbɪtɪv / adj (of prices, etc) so high that one cannot afford to buy. (指价格等)高得买不起的


By making every experience free and easy, Facebook and Alphabet became gatekeepers on the internet, giving them levels of control and profitability previously unknown in media. They exploit data to customize each user’s experience and siphon profits from content creators. Thanks to smartphones, the battle for attention now takes place on a single platform that is available every waking moment. Competitors to Facebook and Alphabet do not have a prayer.

脸书和 Alphabet 把一切体验变得免费而又易于操作,从而把控了互联网的流量入口。其权力之大、利润之高,是媒体界前所未闻的。他们利用数据来给每位用户打造个性化的使用体验,又从内容创造者那里抽取利润。由于智能手机的出现,争夺关注的战役如今转移到了一个可以时时刻刻随身而行的单一平台上。脸书和 Aphabet 的竞争对手已经不抱希望了。

prayer [prer] You can refer to a strong hope that you have as your prayer. 祈祷


Facebook and Alphabet monetize content through advertising that is targeted more precisely than has ever been possible before. The platforms create “filter bubbles” around each user, confirming pre-existing beliefs and often creating the illusion that everyone shares the same views. Platforms do this because it is profitable. The downside of filter bubbles is that beliefs become more rigid and extreme. Users are less open to new ideas and even to facts.

脸书和 Aphabet 通过空前精准的广告投放把内容变现。这两大平台发明了一种“信息过滤器”,安插在每个用户身边,以此让用户对先前已有的观念更为确信,而这往往会给他们造成错觉,以为每个人的观点都是如此。平台这样做是因为有利可图,但信息过滤器的弊端在于:人们的信念变得更为顽固和极端。用户对新思想的开放程度降低了,甚至对事实也不太愿意接受了。

monetize [‘mʌnəˌtaɪz] give legal value to or establish as the legal tender of a country. 把……定位货币;把……转换为现金


Of the millions of pieces of content that Facebook can show each user at a given time, they choose the handful most likely to maximize profits. If it were not for the advertising business model, Facebook might choose content that informs, inspires, or enriches users. Instead, the user experience on Facebook is dominated by appeals to fear and anger. This would be bad enough, but reality is worse.

无论任何时刻,脸书都有数以百万的内容可以向每位用户显示,而最终入选的那寥寥数条,是最有可能为脸书带来最大利润的。若不是因为广告投放的商业模式,他们本可以选择那些让用户获得更多信息、灵感、或能丰富生活的内容。但恰恰相反,脸书用户体验充斥着恐惧和愤怒的叫嚣。这就已经够糟了,但现实却是有过之而无不及。

 

Any advertiser can get access to any Facebook user over unsupervised, automated systems. Five million advertisers do so every month. The Russians took advantage of this first to sow discord among Americans and then to interfere in the 2016 election. Other bad actors exploited Facebook in other areas. One company surveilled protest groups and marketed that data to police departments.

任何广告商都可以借助未经监督的自动化系统,进入任何一位脸书用户的页面,而每个月有五百万名广告商正在这样做。俄罗斯正是利用这一系统兴风作浪,先是散播纷争,离间美国社会,后又借此干涉2016的总统选举。也有唯利是图者在其他领域利用脸书牟利,比如一家公司对抗议群体实施监控,然后把数据推销给了警察局。

bad actorbad person, one that behaves badly. 捣蛋鬼,坏人,表现恶劣的人


Financial institutions were investigated for using Facebook advertising tools to discriminate on the basis of race. Facebook is not the only problem. Alphabet provides Chromebooks to elementary schools with the objective of capturing the attention, and perhaps even behavioral data, about children. At the same time, Alphabet’s YouTube Kids is a site filled with inappropriate content that creates addiction in children far too young to resist.

金融机构也因为利用脸书的广告工具开展种族歧视的商业行为而受到调查。但脸书不是唯一的问题所在。Alphabet 为小学提供三星的 Chromebook 笔记本电脑,目的是吸引儿童的注意力,甚至可能获取他们的行为数据。同时,Aplhabet旗下的儿童网站YouTube Kid 充斥着少儿不宜的内容,且很容易让孩子上瘾,因为他们年纪尚幼,根本没有抵抗能力。

 

While optimizing for profit is understandable and generally appropriate, Facebook and Alphabet have caused harm that requires serious discussion and remediation.

优化信息配置以获取利润是可以理解的,通常也在情理之中,但脸书和 Alphabet已经造成了不容小觑的危害,需要对此进行严肃的讨论和补救。

 

Facebook and Alphabet assert they are not media companies and therefore are not responsible for what third parties do on their platforms. While that position might be reasonable from start-ups, it is not appropriate from companies who control seven of the top 10 platforms on the internet and exhibit the behaviors of monopolies.

脸书和 Alphabet 声称自己不是媒体公司,因此不必为第三方在平台上的所作所为承担责任。这种立场放在初创公司上或许还能站住脚,但从两家如此之大的公司口里说出来,就很不合适了。要知道,在互联网排名前十的平台中,这两家公司就控制了七家,而且他们已经做出了具有垄断性质的行为。

start-up  [ˈstɑrtˌʌp] A start-up company is a small business that has recently been started by someone. 新成立的、刚创办的公司


Society regulates products that create addiction. We have laws to prevent discrimination and election manipulation. None of these regulations and laws has yet been applied to Facebook and Google. The time has come.

社会立法控制那些让人成瘾的产品,我们也有法律来防止歧视和选举操纵。然而这些法律法规尚未被应用在脸书和谷歌上。现在是时候采取行动了。


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<原文链接https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/11/facebook-google-public-health-democracy >

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