[20180706] 是臉書的問題還是我們自己的問題?(書評)

Is Facebook the problem with Facebook, or is it us?

by Nicholas Carr @WashingtonPost

(本文爲 <Antisocial Media> 的書評,其中也介紹了 <Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now>)

與臉書 (Facebook) 的隱私泄漏醜聞持續延燒,又一本批判社交媒體的書問世。 <Antisocial Media> 從法律、政治、歷史的角度更宏觀地討論了以 Facebook 爲首的社交媒體帶給現代社會的問題。

由於歷史原因,人們感覺被全天監視主要是法律問題、而非道德問題,造成了社交媒體能夠利用法律手段讓用戶自願放棄隱私:

Our blindness to privacy’s moral dimension suits Facebook and other social networks. They can address privacy concerns through arcane contractual language and endless checkboxes, reducing the subject to a matter of consumer choice. We come to see privacy as something to be traded for apps and amusements.

雖然 <Antisocial Media> 作者 Vaidhyanathan 不認爲外國在社交媒體的干預對 2016 美國大選和英國脫歐公投有實質影響,但社交媒體本身對民主政治的腐蝕是真正存在的。Facebook 是一個最差的公共論壇,但卻不幸是最多人聚集的公共論壇:

The messages that grab the most attention on social media are tightly targeted, highly charged appeals to emotion, not reasoned arguments… Facebook is “the worst possible forum through which we could conduct our politics,” laments Vaidhyanathan. But it is the forum to which we have flocked.

Vaidhyanathan 對 Facebook 是否能被拯救持悲觀態度,他認爲 Facebook 已經成長到無法控制的規模,未來只能是不斷醜聞爆發到災害控制的循環:

“Facebook,” Vaidhyanathan concludes, “is too big to tame.” The company will always be cleaning up messes, begging our forgiveness.

另外一本更爲煽動性的書 <Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now> 則如書名所說,呼籲大家刪除社交媒體帳號,因爲這些公司已經無可救藥。我們已經被軟體控制,失去了自由思考的能力,被大規模分化成爲一個個的部落,沒有理由地互相憎恨:

As the software exerts ever more influence over what we see and how we think, we begin to lose our free will and even our sense of individuality. Unable to think for ourselves, we drift toward tribalism.

我們之前在 “[20180510] 構思一個比 Facebook 更好的社交平臺” 一文中介紹了 Cathy O’Neil  想象的社交平臺:

一個理想的社交平臺應該像是城鎮廣場一樣,人們可以自由互動、和許久不見的朋友或家人重新建立關係

然而,<Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now> 作者 Lanier 認爲在網路上這種能夠增加信任的公共空間無法存在:

Missing from social media, Lanier suggests, are the “public spaces” of the physical world, where the presence of others reveals similarities that transcend differences. That sense of shared humanity, essential to a decent society, is lost when people are reduced to streams of messages and images. Even when we go out into public spaces today, Lanier observes, we are often gazing at our screens, not our surroundings.

本文作者 Carr 認爲 Lanier 刪除社交媒體就能夠解決問題的樂觀態度有嚴重瑕疵,IT 技術本身早在社交媒體發明前就已經在幫助人們煽動情緒和減少自主思考,問題不在於具體的產品或公司,而是人性的弱點被 IT 技術放大。況且,社交網路已經在現代社會深深扎根,就算是 Vaidhyanathan 這樣的批判者也難以完全戒掉:

The problem with Facebook is not just Facebook. It is also us.

延伸閱讀:

  1. [20180602] Facebook 被指控協助企業在徵才時進行年齡歧視
  2. Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags —— “Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters.”

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