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Leader: The weaponisation of social media is real

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-06 07:29

        Disinformation, propagated on the internet, influenced last year’s US presidential election. The degree of influence is impossible to gauge with precision, of course, but there is no denying the vast scale of malicious attempts by the Internet Research Agency — a Kremlin-linked troll farm — to sway US public opinion. Revelations on that subject in US congressional hearings this week should give pause to anyone who cares about democracy.        在互联网上传播的虚假信息,影响了去年的美国总统大选。当然,影响程度无法精确估量,但不可否认的是,一个与克里姆林宫有关联的“喷子制造厂”(troll farm)——“互联网研究机构”(Internet Research Agency),付出了巨大规模的恶意努力,试图左右美国舆论。最近美国国会听证会上曝光的情况,应该让关心民主体制的所有人深思。
        Among these were Facebook’s acknowledgment that 150m Americans, including Instagram users, may have viewed at least one post of fake news originating with the Russian agency, which took out a total of 3,000 paid ads. That figure says much about the evolution of the media landscape. A few platforms can now reach audiences of previously unimaginable size.        这些情况包括,Facebook承认1.5亿美国人(包括Instagram用户)可能看到了至少一条来自这家俄罗斯机构的假新闻,该机构总共投放了3000则付费广告。这一数据在很大程度上表明了媒体版图的发展演变。少数几个平台如今能够触及到的受众规模之大,是以往难以想象的。
        In the 13 years since then undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook as a college networking site, the company has grown to become the largest global distributor of news, both real and fake. That ascent comes with responsibility. Social media platforms on this scale, for all the good they can do, can be weaponised — in some cases by hostile state actors.        本科大学生马克•扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)创办作为大学社交网站的Facebook 13年来,该公司已发展壮大,成为全球最大的新闻分销商(包括真实真新闻和虚假新闻)。这样的地位攀升必然带来责任。这种规模的社交媒体平台可以被用来做很多好事,但也可能被武器化——在某些情况下是被敌对的国家行为者武器化。
        The tech titans have insisted that they are neutral platforms, with no role as arbiters of truth or social acceptability. They are rightly wary of drawing accusations of bias. At the same time, though, Facebook and others have tacitly acknowledged that they have a role in policing content by striking out posts that promote terrorism and crimes such as child pornography. The ambiguity they have nurtured — that they can be both neutral and upstanding — is becoming increasingly untenable.        科技巨头坚称自己是中立平台,没有判断真相或社会可接受性的义务。它们有理由担心,那么做容易招致偏见指控。然而,与此同时,Facebook及其他平台已经默认,它们在监督内容方面应该发挥作用,包括删掉那些煽动恐怖主义或儿童色情等犯罪行为的帖子。它们所坚持的这种模棱两可——它们可以既中立又正直——正变得越来越站不住脚。
        It is a matter of public interest that the big platforms become more transparent and that clearer standards are in place concerning the flagging and removal of destructive content — be it slanderous, criminal, or designed to subvert democracy.        大型平台提升透明度、在标记和删除有害内容(无论是诽谤或犯罪内容,还是旨在颠覆民主体制的虚假内容)的问题上实行更清晰的标准,事关公共利益。
        The problem may have become globally understood with the 2016 US presidential election, but it did not start there. Ukraine’s government said this week that it warned Facebook in 2015 that Russia was conducting disinformation campaigns on its platform. That should have been a wake-up call, and prompted a much faster response.        2016年美国总统大选也许使这个问题得到了全球理解,但它并非始于美国大选。乌克兰政府最近表示,它曾在2015年警告Facebook:俄罗斯正在其平台上进行散布虚假信息的活动。那本来应该敲响警钟,并引发迅速得多的应对措施。
        The solution is not to subject platform companies to the same standards publishers face: that would destroy much of the value that they offer to society (while wrecking their businesses). But allowing Facebook and its peer companies to determine their responsibilities to the public is not acceptable, either. To start, when the platforms receive direct payment for political advertising, there is no reason they should not be held to the same standard as publishers. They should be as transparent about the funding of such advertising as other media.        解决方案并不是让平台公司受制于与出版商相同的标准:那会摧毁它们提供给社会的很大一部分价值(同时毁掉它们的业务)。但是,允许Facebook及其同行企业自行决定它们对公众的责任也是不可接受的。首先,当这些平台直接承接政治广告时,它们没有理由不受制于与出版商相同的标准。它们应该像其他媒体一样,在这些广告由谁买单的问题上做到透明。
        Unpaid content presents more difficult questions. In the US, internet companies still benefit from the blanket protection provided by the very broadly worded section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has been interpreted as relieving them of all responsibility for content that appears on their sites.        不付费发布的内容提出了更难以解决的问题。在美国,互联网公司仍然受益于措辞非常宽泛的《通信内容端正法》(CDA)第230条的全面保护。该条已被解读为,互联网公司无需为其网站上的内容承担任何责任。
        The act is too strong and needs sharpening. In particular, it needs to reflect a reasonable standard for the responsibility of platforms removing malicious content once they have been made aware of it.        该法太过绝对,需要更有针对性。尤其是,该法需要反映一种合理标准,规定平台在被告知恶意内容后删除这些内容的责任。
        As for the questions of what constitutes malice, and who decides. The same authority that, in democratic societies, has always made decisions about what is acceptable communication in the public square — the elected representatives of the people.        至于如何界定恶意内容、以及由谁决定的问题。在民主社会,这也是一直对什么是公共场合可接受的通信做出界定的那个权威——人民选举产生的代表。

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