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“后真相”时代,谁来定义假新闻?

更新时间:2016-12-7 11:08:19 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

All the Fake News That Was Fit to Print
“后真相”时代,谁来定义假新闻?

In 1920, The Dearborn Independent, a newspaper owned by the industrialist Henry Ford, published a series of articles about a global Jewish conspiracy based on the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” a forged document with origins in czarist Russia. Dozens of other newspapers published the forgery as news.

1920年,实业家亨利·福特(Henry Ford)拥有的《德宝独立报》(The Dearborn Independent)刊发了一系列关于犹太人的全球阴谋的文章,其依据是《锡安长老会纪要》(Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion),一份源自沙皇俄国的伪造文献。其他数十家媒体也纷纷把这份假文献当成真新闻来报道。

In 1924, four days before a general election, The Daily Mail in Britain published the fake “Zinoviev letter,” a supposed directive from Moscow to British Communists to mobilize “sympathetic forces” in the Labour Party; Labour lost the election by a landslide.

1924年,在大选日还有四天就要来临的时候,英国《每日邮报》(The Daily Mail)刊发了伪造的“季诺维也夫信件”(Zinoviev letter),信中宣称莫斯科方面向英国共产党(British Communists)下达了指令,让其动员工党(Labour Party)中“持同情立场的力量”;工党在选举中大败。

In the 1960s, the F.B.I. under J. Edgar Hoover orchestrated a smear campaign against the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Besides planting stories in the press, the F.B.I. forged a letter threatening to expose him as a degenerate and seemingly proposing his suicide.

上世纪60年代,J·埃德加·胡佛(J. Edgar Hoover)领导的联邦调查局(FBI)策划了一场旨在抹黑牧师小马丁·路德·金博士(Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)的行动。除了在媒体上发布文章,联邦调查局还伪造了一封信,在信中扬言要揭露他生活堕落的真相,似乎还建议他自杀。

In 1987, 96 soccer fans, supporters of Liverpool Football Club, died at Hillsborough football ground, in Sheffield, England, crushed to death after being forced into overcrowded caged “pens.” British newspapers, fed lies by the police, wrote that drunken fans were responsible for the disaster.

1987年,96名支持利物浦足球俱乐部(Liverpool Football Club)的球迷,在英国谢菲尔德市的希尔斯堡体育场(Hillsborough)丧生,他们在被迫进入过度拥挤的笼状“围栏”后,死于踩踏事故。英国的报纸听信警方的谎言,发消息称醉酒的球迷对这场灾难负有责任。

In 2003, in the run-up to the Iraq war, articles about Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction filled newspaper pages across the world.

2003年,伊拉克战争爆发前夕,世界各地的报纸都充斥着与萨达姆·侯赛因(Saddam Hussein)的大规模杀伤性武器有关的子虚乌有的文章。

Lies masquerading as news are as old as news itself. It’s a history we should keep in mind amid the current panic about “fake news.” Donald J. Trump’s victory in the presidential election has focused attention on the torrent of false stories, particularly on social media, that many believe played a pivotal role in his victory. But too much of the debate ignores the long history of fake news and fails to recognize what is actually distinctive about contemporary politics.

自从有新闻那天起,就有伪装成新闻的谎言。在“假新闻”正引发恐慌之际,我们要把这段历史铭记于心。唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)的胜选,让假新闻狂潮——尤其是社交媒体上的假新闻狂潮备受关注,很多人都把这股狂潮视为特朗普获胜的关键助力。不过,有太多讨论忽略了假新闻的悠久历史,也没意识到当代政治真正的特别之处。

In the past, governments, mainstream institutions and newspapers manipulated news and information. Today, anyone with a Facebook account can do it. Instead of the carefully organized fake news of old, there is now an anarchic outflow of lies. What has changed is not that news is faked, but that the old gatekeepers of news have lost their power. Just as elite institutions have lost their grip over the electorate, so their ability to define what is and is not news has also eroded.

过去,政府、主流机构和报纸可以操纵新闻和信息。现在,任何拥有Facebook账号的人都可以这样做。过去的假新闻都经过精心的编排,现在冒出的谎言则混乱无序。真正的变化不在于新闻造假,而在于旧有的新闻守门人丧失了权力。正如精英机构已经失去对选民的控制一样,它们定义什么是新闻、什么不是新闻的能力也受到了侵蚀。

The panic about fake news has given fuel to the idea that we live in a “post-truth” era. The Oxford English Dictionary has even made post-truth its “word of the year,” defining it as “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” But just as with fake news, the truth, if I may still use that word, about post-truth is more complex than many allow.

对假新闻的恐慌让人愈发相信,我们生活在“后真相”(post-truth)时代。《牛津英语词典》(The Oxford English Dictionary)已经把后真相选为“年度词汇”,并将其定义为“诉诸情感及个人信念,较陈述客观事实更能影响舆论的情况”。不过,与假新闻的情况相仿,关于后真相的真相——要是仍然用这个词的话——比许多人所声称的都要复杂。

Politics has always relied on more than just facts about the world. It rests also an ideological framework through which to interpret facts. Consider some of the big questions that may dominate the early Trump presidency. Should there be a registry of Muslims? Should undocumented workers be deported? Is torture acceptable? Should abortion be made illegal?

政治从来不只建立在关于这个世界的事实之上。它还有赖于用以解释事实的意识形态框架。不妨思考一下或许会在特朗普的任期之初备受关注的某些大问题。应该推行穆斯林登记制吗?应该驱逐无合法身份的工人吗?酷刑是可以接受的吗?应该把堕胎归为非法吗?

I oppose any registry of Muslims, reject torture, condemn mass deportations and support abortion rights. I do so not simply because of empirical facts but because there are certain political and philosophical beliefs I hold that run deeper than facts; beliefs about rights, values and what it is to be human. If the facts showed that torture worked, I would still oppose it. The fact that medical advances have made it possible for a premature fetus to survive outside the womb at a younger age does not change my view of abortion.

我反对任何形式的穆斯林登记制,抵制酷刑,谴责大规模驱逐行动,支持堕胎权。我如此行事的依据不仅仅是经验性事实,还有我秉持的某些比事实更深刻的政治和哲学观念,关于权利、价值以及人何以为人的观念。即便事实证明酷刑很管用,我仍会反对它。尽管医学的进步已经使得更早出生的早产儿有可能在子宫之外存活,但我并不会因为这一事实而改变对堕胎的看法。

This does not mean that I am driven more by emotion that by fact. It means rather that, when it comes to politics, facts make sense only within an ideological framework.

这并不是说,我更多是受到情感而非事实的驱动。而是意味着,当牵涉到政治的时候,事实只有在某种意识形态框架之内才有意义。

In the past, those frameworks were constructed largely out of the political divide between left and right. Each provided a different ideological lens through which to look at the world, interpret the same facts differently and come to different conclusions about policy.

过去,这些框架主要是由左派和右派之间的政治分歧构建而成。每一种框架都提供了一种不同的意识形态透镜,用以观察这个世界,对相同的事实做出不同的解释,并就政策得出不同的结论。

Today, those political frameworks have fragmented and are shaped more by identity than by ideology. The key fault line today is not between left and right but between those who welcome a more globalized, technocratic world, and those who feel left out, dispossessed and voiceless.

这些政治框架眼下已经支离破碎,而且在很大程度上是由身份而非意识形态塑造的。现如今,被关键断层线分隔开来的并不是左派和右派,而是拥抱更加全球化和技术官僚化的世界的人,以及感觉自己遭到遗忘、一无所有、没有发言权的人。

Mr. Trump’s supporters and his liberal critics fall on different sides of this new divide. Many Trump supporters see their economic precariousness and political voicelessness as a result of globalization and immigration. Many liberals see such voters as “deplorables.” Both sides interpret facts and news through their own particular political and cultural frames.

特朗普的支持者和批评他的自由派人士分别处于这条新界线两侧。特朗普的很多支持者都认为,其经济上的不稳定和政治上的失语是由全球化和移民入境造成的。很多自由派人士则把这些选民视为“遭唾弃之人”。双方都借助自身特有的政治和文化框架来解读事实和新闻。

All this has led to anguished discussions about people living in echo chambers, sealed-off social worlds in which the only views they hear are ones echoing their own, and about the role of social media in creating such worlds. Studies suggest that such fears are exaggerated; that, for instance, Facebook users do have access to contrary views.

由此引发的焦灼讨论,主要围绕那些活在回音室内和封闭社会世界中,只听得见让其产生共鸣的观点的人们,以及社交媒体在此类社会世界中所扮演的角色展开。研究显示:这种担忧有夸大的成分;例如,Facebook用户就可以听见相反的观点。

More important, social media have not created a fragmented world. They merely reflect and amplify one that already exists, a world in which the authority of traditional institutions has eroded, in which old vehicles of political change have disappeared and in which there is often a welling of anger without a conventional political outlet.

更重要的是,社交媒体并非制造了一个支离破碎的世界。它们只不过是折射并放大了既有的世界,在这个世界里,传统机构的权威受到了剥蚀,推动政治变革的旧有手段日渐消失,而且怒火常常在传统政治途径以外喷薄而出。

If the problem of fake news is more complex than is commonly suggested, the solutions offered are often worse than the problem itself. There are demands that Facebook should censor feeds and weed out fake stories, and for the law to come down hard on those who promote lies. But who should decide what is fake and what isn’t?

如果说假新闻问题比人们通常以为的更复杂,那么相关方面给出的解决之道则常常比问题本身更糟糕。有人提议,Facebook应该审查信息流,清除假新闻;还有人提议,应该用法律严惩传播假新闻者。但应该由谁来决定什么是真、什么是假呢?

Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg, or the United States government, to determine what constitutes truth? Do we really want to go back to the days when the only fake news was “official” fake news?

我们真希望让马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)或者美国政府决定真相由什么构成吗?我们真希望回到只有“官方”假新闻这一种假新闻的年代吗?

Fake news is a problem. But we should not exaggerate its newness, misunderstand its cause or promote cures worse than the disease.

假新闻是个问题。但我们不应夸大其新奇度,误解其原因,或者推介比问题本身还要糟糕的解决之道。

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