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It Built an Empire of GIFs, Buzzy News and Jokes. China Isn’t Amused.

来源:纽约时报    2018-04-12 10:28

        BEIJING — A Chinese start-up that appears to have mastered the art of keeping people glued to their smartphones also has a knack for something else: drawing the ire of China’s censors.        北京——中国一家初创企业似乎已经掌握了让人们的眼球离不开智能手机的技巧。不过,它还有另一个本事:激怒中国的审查者。
        The country’s top media regulator on Tuesday ordered the company, Bytedance, to shut down its app for sharing jokes and silly videos. Vulgar content on the Neihan Duanzi app had “caused strong dislike among internet users,” a brief notice from the State Administration of Radio and Television said. The company was told to clean up its other platforms, too.        周二,中国最高的媒体监管机构要求该公司关停其用于分享笑话和荒唐视频的应用程序。国家广电总局发布的一份简短公告称,“内涵段子”应用内容低俗,“引发网民强烈反感”。该公司也被要求整改它的其他平台。
        The shutdown was only the latest blow for Bytedance, one of the world’s most successful technology start-ups. Just a day earlier, its flagship app, a popular news aggregator called Jinri Toutiao, was pulled from app stores for unspecified reasons.        这次关停是对北京字节跳动科技有限公司的最新打击,这家公司是世界上最成功的科技初创企业之一。就在一天前,该公司广受喜爱的旗舰应用新闻汇总客户端软件“今日头条”被有关部门从应用商店下架,没有具体原因。
        And last week, Huoshan, the company’s platform for sharing slice-of-life video clips, vanished from app stores after China’s official television broadcaster rapped it for glorifying underage pregnancy.        上周,中国官方的电视广播公司谴责火山小视频美化未成年人怀孕后,这个分享生活视频片段的平台从应用商店消失。
        In a statement posted Wednesday morning, Zhang Yiming, Bytedance’s founder and chief executive, said he had spent the previous, sleepless night in deep reflection, gnawed by “a guilty conscience.”        字节跳动创始人兼首席执行官张一鸣在周三早间发布的一则声明中说,他接到通知后一夜未眠,一直在反思,处在“内疚之中”。
        “Content had appeared that did not accord with core socialist values and was not a good guide for public opinion,” Mr. Zhang wrote. “Over the past few years, we put more effort and resources toward expanding the business, and did not take enough measures to supervise our platform.”        “出现了与社会主义核心价值观不符的内容,没有贯彻好舆论导向,”张一鸣写道。“过去几年间,我们把更多的精力和资源,放在了企业的增长上,却没有采取足够措施,来补上我们在平台监管上欠下的功课。”
        He added that Bytedance would expand its team for monitoring content to 10,000 people from 6,000 presently.        他还说,字节跳动将马上把其现有6000人的审核队伍扩大到10000人。
        The company’s travails show how the government in Beijing has broadened its restrictions on what people see and say on the internet. Regulators are increasingly suppressing content that they deem pornographic or in poor taste, and not merely material that touches on politically sensitive topics such as regime change or personal freedoms.        字节跳动的困境,显示了北京在如何扩大政府对人们在互联网上能看什么、说什么所做出的限制。监管者正越来越多地压制在他们眼里属于色情或低俗的内容,而不仅限于触及政治敏感话题的内容,譬如政权更迭或个人自由。
        The authorities are also scrambling to keep up as a new wave of Chinese apps, many of them built around short, spontaneously recorded video clips or live streams, helps people communicate and express themselves in new and hard-to-supervise ways.        中国政府也在努力跟上技术发展的步伐。国内新一波应用中,有许多是围绕着自发录制的短视频片段或直播而设计的,这些应用帮助人们以新的、难以监管的方式进行交流和自我表达。
        Bytedance — which investors valued at more than $30 billion recently, putting it more in the financial league of Airbnb or SpaceX than of Buzzfeed or Vice — has assembled a confederation of these buzzy new apps. And it has made no secret of its desire to dominate phone screens across the rest of the world, too.        字节跳动已拥有各种各样的新应用程序,投资者最近对其的估值超过300亿美元,使其的金融级别超越了Buzzfeed或Vice,可与Airbnb或SpaceX相比拟。而且,字节跳动也毫不掩饰自己想要主宰世界其他地区手机屏幕的愿望。
        The company says it uses artificial intelligence technology to figure out what users like, then makes sure they are fed more and more of it. Read a few articles on the trade spat between the United States and China, and soon your Toutiao feed will be populated with news on international relations. Watch a bunch of stand-up comedy shows, and before long, the app will suggest new comics who might appeal.        该公司说,他们使用人工智能技术来找到用户喜欢的东西,然后确保用户得到越来越多的这些东西。读一篇有关中美贸易争端的文章,你的今日头条中很快就会充斥着国际关系方面的新闻;看几个脱口秀节目之后不久,这款应用就会向你推荐一些你可能会喜欢的新喜剧演员。
        Bytedance has spent top dollar hiring engineers and software experts to fine-tune its recommendation technology.        为了对公司的推荐技术进行更细微的调整,字节跳动已高薪聘请了工程师和软件专家。
        “It’s like having a chef in your house who knows what kind of food you like,” said Xu Qinglu, a 22-year-old student and Toutiao user in Beijing.        “就像你家里有个厨师一样,他知道你的口味,”22岁的许清露说,她是北京的一名学生和今日头条用户。
        “I think the app is not harmful,” she added. “The people who use it should be responsible for their own behavior.”        “我觉得这个app无害,”她补充道。“用户应该自己有能力控制自己的行为。”
        At an event in Beijing last month, Mr. Zhang said he hoped that more than half of the company’s users would come from outside China within the next three years. At the moment, he said, one in 10 of its users were overseas.        上个月在北京举行的一次活动中,张一鸣说,他希望在未来三年内,公司一半以上的用户将来自中国大陆以外的地方。他说,目前十分之一的用户来自海外。
        First, though, the company needs to continue thriving in China. Bytedance’s detractors say that salty, unwholesome material — the sort that has the Chinese government on edge these days — is exactly what the company’s apps have specialized in, and is a major reason for its popularity.        不过,公司首先需要在中国能继续蓬勃发展。字节跳动的批评者说,那些有趣而略嫌粗俗的、不健康的材料,正是公司的应用所擅长的,也是它受欢迎的主要原因,但这些都属于让中国政府最近不高兴的种类。
        “Will a cleaned-up Toutiao still have an edge?” said Neil Arora, an American investor who previously worked in venture capital in Beijing.        “整顿干净了的头条还会优势吗?”曾在北京从事风险投资的美国投资者尼尔·阿罗拉(Neil Arora)问道。
        “Toutiao’s strong team, refined algorithms and locked-in users may help it adapt,” said Mr. Arora, who is not a Bytedance shareholder. “However, the bigger danger is that all news apps may lose out, with users pulling away from sanitized news feeds for entertainment elsewhere.”        “头条强大的团队、改进的算法,以及已经拥有的用户群可能会帮助它适应,”阿罗拉说,他不是字节跳动的股东。“但是,更大的危险是,所有的新闻应用都可能是输家,因为用户不想看净化了的新闻汇总,他们会转向别的娱乐平台。”
        Hans Tung of GGV Capital, a venture firm that operates in both China and the United States and is a Bytedance shareholder, said he is confident the company will continue to add more types of material — not just the lowbrow kind — to its platforms. “The Toutiao we see today is not the Toutiao it will be five years from now,” he said.        在中国和美国都有业务的风险投资公司纪源资本(GGV Capital)的童士豪(Hans Tung)是字节跳动的持股人。他说,他相信字节跳动将继续在其平台上增加更多类型的内容,而不仅仅是低层次的那种。“我们今天看到的头条不是今后五年的头条。”
        “It’s better to go through this rodeo a few times,” Mr. Tung said of the latest rebuke from regulators. This way, he said, the company will be motivated to move more quickly in courting users who want higher-minded stuff.        “最好经历几次这样的风波,”童士豪在提到监管者最近的指责时说。他说,这样才能让公司有动力迅速采取行动,去吸引那些想得到更高品位内容的用户。
        Toutiao aside, three other popular news apps — including one run by Tencent, the giant Chinese conglomerate — were also taken down from stores this week.        除了头条,另外三个热门的新闻应用本周也从应用商店下架,其中包括中国互联网巨头腾讯旗下的一个应用。
        Another fast-growing video app, Kuaishou, was removed last week alongside Huoshan, and also for featuring videos made by teenage mothers. In response, Kuaishou’s parent company said it would increase the size of its content-monitoring team to 5,000 from 2,000.        上周,另一个快速增长的客户端视频应用“快手”与火山一起被撤下,同样是因为平台上推出了少女妈妈制作的视频。快手的母公司在回应中表示,将把其内容监管团队的规模从2000人扩大到5000人。
        A posting from Kuaishou on one hiring website last week says the company is looking for people with bachelor’s degrees or higher. Candidates with “good political awareness” and “strong political sensitivity and discernment” are preferred. Being a member of the Communist Party or Communist Youth League is also a plus, the listing says.        上周,快手在一个招聘网站上发布信息说,公司正在寻找拥有本科及以上学历的人。有“良好的政治觉悟”和“较强的政治敏感度与鉴别能力”的应聘者优先。招聘信息还表示,党员和共青团员优先。
        Duanzi, Bytedance’s now-shuttered humor app, trafficked in dirty jokes, goofy comedy sketches and well-worn but persistent gender stereotypes. One post that appeared on the app before it was closed down declared that the way to know that a man won’t cheat on his wife is to place a beautiful woman before him — but the way to test a woman’s fidelity is to try seducing her with a lot of money.        字节跳动目前已被关停的幽默应用“内涵段子”,贩卖的是肮脏的笑话、滑稽的喜剧小品,以及性别刻板印象的老生常谈。在被关闭之前,这个平台上曾有这样一个帖子:想知道一个男人是否会对妻子不忠的方法是,让一个漂亮女人出现在他面前;而考验一个女人是否忠诚的方法是,试着用一大笔钱来引诱她。
        Another post, unprintable in a family newspaper, was a ribald joke involving a seller of fried dough sticks, his wife and an irate customer.        还有一个不宜在家庭报纸上刊登的下流笑话,涉及一个卖油条的小贩、他的妻子和一名愤怒的顾客。
        Even Bytedance’s news app, Toutiao, featured plenty of edgy material that kept users coming back, sometimes reluctantly, for more. Xiao Lin, a 29-year-old programmer in Beijing, called the app “spiritual opium.”        就连字节跳动的新闻应用今日头条,也有大量打擦边球的内容,这些内容让用户不断地回来看更多的东西,尽管他们有时并不情愿。29岁的北京程序员霄林称,这个应用是“精神鸦片”。
        “On a typical night, I would keep clicking on news items the app recommended to me while telling myself, ‘After this, I will sleep,’” Mr. Xiao said. “But I ended up reading more and more, for hours. I couldn’t stop.”        “经常的,我晚上一边点击app推荐给的文章,一边告诉我自己,‘看了这个就睡觉’,”霄林说。“但是常常是越看越停不下,好几个小时就浪费在它上面,很晚睡。”
        He deleted the app in January.        今年1月,他删除了这个应用。

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