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扎克伯格希望纠偏Facebook,他有五种方式可供选择

JEFF JOHN ROBERTS 2018年01月24日

扎克伯格承认,Facebook已经成为了一个可能让用户感到孤单和沮丧的讨厌网站。

Facebook的首席执行官这次说得一点都没错。通过一系列公开评论,马克·扎克伯格承认了众所周知的事情:Facebook已经成为了一个可能让用户感到孤单和沮丧的讨厌网站。

扎克伯格也下定决定对此做些什么。他把纠偏Facebook列在了自己的2018年度挑战中。在一次坦率的访谈里,他称这个项目是对女儿的责任。

扎克伯格对《纽约时报》(New York Times)表示:“马克思和奥古斯特长大以后,感到她们的父亲对世界做了些有益的事情,这对我来说很重要。”

毫无疑问,扎克伯格可以做出这样的改变——他是一位天赋十足的首席执行官,深受员工爱戴,自2004年在宿舍创立公司以来,一直完全掌控着这里。问题在于他是否会坚持到底,还是说他的宏伟计划只是又一次营销造势。

没错,扎克伯格已经宣布了改变计划,例如把与家人和朋友互动的重要性调整至其他业务之上。不过他还可以采取其他一些大动作,向我们展示他确实真心想要纠偏Facebook。例如以下五条:

1)坦白Facebook寻找“朋友”的算法

Facebook“你可能认识的人”算法,是其最强大的工具之一,也是人们感觉这个社交网络像是由反社会的操纵者运营的重要理由。调查记者克什米尔·希尔指出,Facebook侵略性的数据挖掘技术导致了许多令人不安的情况。

其中就包括一位匿名的精子捐献者在Facebook的可能“朋友”中发现了他的女儿,而精神病患者会看到同病房的其他人出现在“可能认识的人”里。

Facebook坚持拒绝公布任何相关的机制,也不给用户更多权限来设置谁可以搜到他们。如果扎克伯格真的希望让Facebook成为更加友好的社区,他首先可以对这最令人不安的功能透露一二。

2)给一个关闭婴儿和动物内容的开关

我并非针对婴儿,但我不希望他们出现在我的Facebook推送里。不幸的是,Facebook热爱婚姻的算法坚持认为没有比婴儿更好的事物,并不断显示婴儿的图片,他们大多来自我几乎不认识的父母。于我而言,这只是一点小困扰,不过那些刚刚失去孩子或迫切想要一个的人恐怕会对此感到心碎。

Facebook的人工智能当然已经足够优秀到分辨婴儿图像,并让用户选择减少它们出现的频率——如果用户喜欢,甚至还可以提高频率。类似的,那些爱宠一族喜欢发布他们小狗或小猫的照片。为什么不设立一个选项,让我们看到更多或更少的动物呢?

3)到国会上讲述

许多证据表明,克里姆林宫和其他挑拨者都在利用Facebook病毒性的传播网络在美国人当中搬弄是非:“黑人的命很重要”、“德州分裂”……那些帖子似乎试图在各个话题上搞破坏。在骚乱的大选年,这进一步加剧了美国的政治分歧。

扎克伯格至少不再说这些宣传会产生作用的想法“很疯狂”。不过如果他真正想要向美国人表明他关注公司对民主政治的影响,就应该在国会展开调查前亲自证明这一点,而不是派律师和助理来解决。正如Facebook的早期投资者罗杰·麦克纳米在《华盛顿月刊》(Washington Monthly)所写的那样:

“尽管硅谷的许多企业家都是极端的自由主义者,但那里的员工还是倾向于理想主义。他们想要相信自己做的是好事。强迫扎克伯格这样的科技公司首席执行官离开发言人或公关的庇护,在公众面前给他们那套不合道理的说辞辩护,对于削弱他们在员工面前精心维护的个人崇拜大有益处。”

4)聘用公共编辑

扎克伯格宣布Facebook计划降低新闻类文章的比重,但这改变不了他经营着史上最强媒体和广告公司的事实(不要忘了Facebook还拥有Instagram和WhatsApp)。

如果扎克伯格真心想要减少在用户推送中充斥的虚假或低质量新闻故事,他可以向新闻界求助。他可以任命一名专业记者担任公共编辑,让他/她从内部了解Facebook的媒体运营,并让他们就公司对媒体环境的影响进行评估报告。

他甚至可以做得更好,任命两位这样的编辑——一位自由派,一位保守派——来帮助平息有关政治倾向的谴责。

5)让用户成为自身的算法

这无疑是扎克伯格在Facebook上可以做的最大改善:把所有那些强大算法的钥匙交给受到它们影响的用户。与其看到一系列Facebook程序员精心选择的帖子,用户可以自行选择他们想看什么。一些人可能想看新闻文章,另一些人则可能想看婴儿照片。

这种选择的要素可以让Facebook营造更加有尊严的体验,降低了用户的被操纵感。它需要一些实践——现有的推送很有用,因为它可以让用户看到一系列内容,而不是几万条人们发送的推文——但聪明如Facebook,肯定可以提供工具,让用户限定自己想要的范围。

扎克伯格本周在Facebook上写道:“Facebook最优先的使命始终是四个字:‘赋能于人’。”如果他说到做到,就会承认算法的控制权不应掌控在他或是其他高管手中,而是应当交给Facebook的用户。(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正 

Facebook’s CEO is saying all the right things. In a series of public comments, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged what many people already knew: Facebook has become an unpleasant place that can make users feel lonely and frustrated.

Zuckerberg has also resolved to do something about it. He’s made fixing Facebook his annual challenge for 2018 and, in a candid interview, described the project as a duty to his daughters.

“It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,” Mr. Zuckerberg told the New York Times.

There’s no doubt Zuckerberg can make such changes—he’s a gifted CEO, beloved by his employees, who has total control over the company he started in a dorm room in 2004. The question is whether he’ll actually follow through, or if his grand plan will be just another marketing exercise.

Yes, Zuckerberg has already announced changes, such as favoring interaction with family and friends over businesses. But there are other big steps he could take to show us he’s sincere about fixing Facebook. Here are five:

1) Come clean about how Facebook finds “friends”

Facebook’s “People You May Know” algorithm is one of its most powerful tools, but also a big reason the social network can feel like it’s run by a sociopathic manipulator. As investigative journalist Kashmir Hill revealed, Facebook’s aggressive data-mining tactics have led to many unsettling situations.

These include an anonymous sperm donor seeing his daughter as a possible “friend” on Facebook, and patients in the same psychiatric office seeing others suggested as “people they may know.”

Facebook has resolutely refused to shed any light on how any of this works, or to give users more control over who can find them. If Zuckerberg really wants to make Facebook a more hospitable place, he can start by shedding light on one of its most unsettling features.

2) Give us a switch for babies and animals

I have nothing against babies but I don’t want them in my Facebook feed. Unfortunately, Facebook’s engagement-obsessed algorithm insists there’s nothing better than a baby—and shows a steady parade of children, often born to people I barely know. This is a minor nuisance to me, but it could be heart-breaking for those who’ve lost a child or want one badly.

Facebook’s artificial intelligence is certainly good enough to identify infant images, and let people choose to see fewer of them—or, if they wish, even more of them. Likewise, the pet-obsessed like to post photos of their puppies and kitties. Why not create a setting to let us see more or fewer animals?

3) Go speak before Congress

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the Kremlin and other agitators used Facebook’s powerful viral machinery to sow discord among Americans: Posts intended to cause mischief about everything from Black Lives Matter to Texas secession helped exacerbate the country’s political divisions during a turbulent election year.

Zuckerberg has at least stopped saying it’s “crazy” to think none of this propaganda had any influence. But if he really wants to show the American people he cares about his company’s impact on democracy, he can testify in person—rather than sending lawyers or lieutenants—before one of the ongoing Congressional investigations. As early Facebook investor Roger McNamee recently wrote in Washington Monthly:

“While many of the folks who run Silicon Valley are extreme libertarians, the people who work there tend to be idealists. They want to believe what they’re doing is good. Forcing tech CEOs like Zuckerberg to justify the unjustifiable, in public—without the shield of spokespeople or PR spin—would go a long way to puncturing their carefully preserved cults of personality in the eyes of their employees.

4) Hire a public editor

Zuckerberg announced that Facebook intends to downplay posts by news publishers, but this doesn’t change the fact he runs the most powerful media and advertising company in history (don’t forget Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp too).

If he is sincere about reducing the fake and low-calorie news stories clogging up users’ Facebook feed, Zuckerberg could turn to the press for help. He could name a professional journalist as a public editor, and give him or her an inside view of Facebook’s media operations—and let them report on the company’s impact on the media.

Even better, he could appoint two such people—a liberal and a conservative—to help deflect accusations of political bias.

5) Let users be their own algorithm

This is easily the biggest thing Zuckerberg could do to improve Facebook: Turn over the keys for its all-powerful algorithms to the people who have to live under them. Instead of seeing a selection of posts curated by a Facebook programmer, users could select for themselves exactly what they want to see. For some, this might be news articles and, for others, it might be babies.

This element of choice would make the Facebook experience feel more dignified, and less manipulative. It would take some practice of course—the existing curation is useful because it lets users see a handful of items rather than the hundreds or thousands of things people post—but a company as clever as Facebook can surely provide tools to winnow down the scope on their own.

“The first four words of Facebook’s mission have always been ‘give people the power’,” Zuckerberg wrote this week. If he means what he says, he’ll acknowledge that control over the algorithm shouldn’t be wielded by him or any other executive, but by Facebook’s users.

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