SINCE JANUARY, Donald Trump has been missing from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, after his online posts about the Capitol riot in Washington, DC, caused the firms to suspend his accounts for inciting violence. For many Americans, the sound of silence is welcome. Without the megaphone of social media, Mr Trump is muted. Facebook has not just blocked his account but is scrubbing other users’ content that features his voice.
今年 1 月份，特朗普在网上发布了有关华盛顿特区国会大厦暴动的帖子后，账号被 Facebook、推特和 YouTube 以煽动暴力为名冻结，就此消失。许多美国人喜欢这种沉默的声音。没有了社交媒体的扩音器，特朗普的声音变得微弱。Facebook 不仅封锁了他的帐户，还在清理其他替他发声的用户的内容。
The ban raises questions about free speech and online platforms’ power. Even Senator Bernie Sanders, no Trump fan, confesses to feeling uncomfortable that the ex-president has been silenced by a “handful of high-tech people” 。YouTube’s boss, Susan Wojcicki, has said the video firm will lift its suspension only “when we determine that the risk of violence has decreased” 。Twitter will not relent, full-stop.
这个封杀引发了有关言论自由和在线平台权力的质疑。哪怕并非特朗普粉丝的参议员伯尼・桑德斯也对前总统被「少数高科技人」禁言感到不适。YouTube 的老板苏珊・沃西基（Susan Wojcicki）表示，仅在「我们确定暴力风险有所降低时」，公司才会取消冻结。推特则完全不会让步，没得商量。
Facebook is taking a different approach. Mark Zuckerberg, its boss, made the call to suspend Mr Trump’s account. But whether to reverse that will be decided later this month by 19 experts on the firm’s Oversight Board (OB), in effect its “Supreme Court” 。The board’s decision will be a high-profile test of whether a middle ground between unfettered corporate autonomy and government regulation can be an effective tool in tackling thorny decisions on content.
Facebook 正在采取一种不同的做法。老板马克・扎克伯格做出了冻结特朗普帐户的决定。但是，是否将其撤销，将在 4 月底由该公司的监督委员会（OB），即事实上它的「最高法院」的 19 名专家决定。委员会的决定将是一次备受瞩目的测试，检验介于不受约束的公司自治与政府监管之间的中间地带是否可以成为一种有效的工具，来解决有关内容的棘手决策。
Mr Zuckerberg floated the idea of the board in 2018, and its first slate of members was announced last year. It is meant to be an independent body that can render binding decisions on the social-media giant and suggest policy tweaks. Facebook has put $130m into a trust to fund it for at least six years. Board members are a global bevy of brainiacs: ten are academics, five work in non-profits and think-tanks, two hail from journalism, one from politics and one is a Nobel peace laureate. “All the members have free speech as part of their core values,” says Ronaldo Lemos, a Brazilian lawyer who is an OB member.
扎克伯格于 2018 年提出了委员会的想法，并于去年宣布了其首批成员。它旨在成为一个独立的机构，可以对社交媒体巨头做出具有约束力的决定，并提出政策调整的建议。Facebook 已经向信托基金注资 1.3 亿美元，为其提供至少六年的资助。委员会成员是一群全球的脑力精英：十名学者，五人在非营利组织和智库工作，两人来自新闻界，一位来自政界，一位诺贝尔和平奖获得者。「所有成员都把言论自由作为其核心价值观的一部分。」OB 成员巴西律师罗纳尔多・莱默斯（Ronaldo Lemos）说。
After posts are removed, users of Facebook and its sister social network Instagram can appeal to the OB; this has happened some 300,000 times. The board sifts through appeals to choose cases, which it has 90 days to adjudicate. Facebook itself can also refer cases directly to the OB, as it did with Mr Trump. A computer randomly assigns each case to a five-member panel. Board members are part-time, but the OB employs 40 staff, who help with case selection and research, rather like Supreme Court clerks. Just as interested parties in Supreme Court cases can submit briefs, people can submit comments to the board.
如果 Facebook 及其姐妹社交网络 Instagram 的用户有帖子被删除，用户可以向 OB 提出上诉；这已经发生了约 30 万次。委员会筛选上诉以选择案件，并有 90 天的时间来做出裁定。与对特朗普的处理一样，Facebook 本身也可以将案件直接提交给 OB。计算机将每个案子随机分配给一个五人小组。委员会成员是兼职的，但 OB 雇有 40 名员工，就像最高法院的书记员一样，帮助选择和研究案件。就像最高法院案件的当事方可以提交案情摘要一样，人们也可以向委员会提交评论。
So far it has taken up 12 cases and received 10,000 comments, 9,800 of them related to the Trump ban. When the panel reaches a conclusion, the majority of the board has to approve the decision, which is then written up and made public.
到目前为止，它已经受理了 12 起案件，收到了 1 万条评论，其中 9800 条与封禁特朗普相关。小组得出结论后必须经由委员会多数成员批准，再撰写意见并公开。
The dozen cases are a varied bunch. Was Facebook right to take down images of blackface? Or a photo of a bare nipple raising awareness of breast cancer? Or a video arguing for access to an unproven treatment for covid-19? Of the seven cases it has ruled on, the board overturned Facebook’s decision five times. It does not take into account the laws of any specific country but weighs Facebook’s “community standards” and “values” with international human-rights law. It can also coax Facebook to make changes to its policies. Some of Facebook’s tweaks to handling anti-vax content were a response to the board’s criticisms.
这 12 个案件千差万别。Facebook 有权删除把脸抹黑的图像吗？或者用于提高公众对乳腺癌认识的裸露乳头的照片？或者是支持提供未经证实的新冠疗法的视频？在已裁定的七起案件中，委员会五次推翻了 Facebook 的决定。它没有考虑任何特定国家的法律，而是根据国际人权法权衡了 Facebook 的「社区标准」和「价值观」。它还可以劝导 Facebook 更改政策。Facebook 对处理反疫苗内容的一些调整就是应委员会的批评而做出的。
Which way will it go on Mr Trump? From its first decisions “it was clear how highly the board prizes freedom of expression,” says Evelyn Douek, a law lecturer at Harvard. “That made me think Trump’s odds just got better.” Not everyone agrees. A lot will depend on how the board interprets human-rights law, as opposed to Facebook’s standards, which Mr Trump violated routinely. “Trump’s account involves not just his free speech but has an impact on other people’s rights,” says David Kaye, a former UN rapporteur for freedom of expression, who will be “really surprised” if the OB contradicts Facebook’s decision.
它会对特朗普下什么判决呢？从最初的那些裁定来看，「委员会珍视言论自由的程度是显而易见的，」哈佛大学的法学讲师伊夫林・杜耶克（Evelyn Douek）说，「这让我觉得特朗普的机会更大了。」 并非所有人都同意。这很大程度上取决于委员会如何解释人权法，而不是特朗普经常违反的 Facebook 标准。「特朗普的言论不仅仅涉及他自己的言论自由，也影响其他人的权利。」前联合国言论自由问题报告员戴维・凯伊（David Kaye）说。如果 OB 推翻 Facebook 的决定，他将「非常惊讶」。
Either way, controversy will continue. “Facebook is still holding the reins far too tight,” says Ms Douek. On April 13 th it announced that the board would have authority to review appeals related to content that had been kept on the platform. Until now the board has only been able to review appeals against the removal of content.
不管结果如何，争论都将继续。杜耶克说：「Facebook 仍然把缰绳抓得太紧了。」Facebook 于 4 月 13 日宣布，委员会将有权审查与平台上保留的内容有关的申诉。到目前为止，委员会只能审查有关删除内容的申诉。
Despite criticism, the board is worth watching for several reasons. One is that it will help bring some of Facebook’s decisions into the light. “One of the challenges has been the lack of information that’s available in how exactly Facebook works and how its automated systems are trained and evaluated,” says Nicolas Suzor, an Australian law professor and OB member.
尽管存在批评，但出于几个原因还是值得关注这个委员会。其一是它将有助于让 Facebook 的某些决定公之于众。「挑战之一是无从知晓 Facebook 到底如何运作，以及它的自动化系统是怎样训练和评估的。」澳大利亚法律教授、OB 成员尼古拉・苏泽尔（Nicolas Suzor）说。
Second, in ruling on Mr Trump the board will guide Facebook on how to treat other politicians, such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. Facebook and Twitter have operated with a “newsworthiness exemption” for such leaders, allowing speech that violated their own policies because of the speakers’ position and the potential benefit to users from hearing them. “There’s the saying,‘with great power comes great responsibility’ 。But with the newsworthiness exemption, great power comes with indemnification from responsibility,” says Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory.
其次，通过对特朗普的裁决，委员会将指导 Facebook 如何对待其他政客，例如巴西的贾尔・博尔索纳罗和菲律宾的罗德里戈・杜特尔特。鉴于这些言说者的地位和听取其言论对用户的潜在利益，Facebook 和推特对此类领导人实行了「新闻价值豁免」，允许其发表违反公司政策的言论。「俗话说，『权力越大责任越大』。但有了新闻价值豁免，强大的权力却伴随着责任的免除。」斯坦福大学互联网观测站的瑞内・迪雷斯塔（Renee DiResta）说。
And, third, the board’s verdicts will ripple across social media. Its decision on Mr Trump will put pressure on Twitter and YouTube. It will become a de facto standard-setter. “If the Oversight Board could be the germ that gets buy-in from industry, that’s wonderful,” says Sir Nick Clegg, Britain’s former deputy prime minister, who is Facebook’s communications chief.
第三，委员会的裁定将波及其他社交媒体。它对特朗普的裁定将给推特和 YouTube 施加压力。它将成为事实上的标准制定者。「如果监督委员会这个尝试可以得到行业认可，那就真是太好了。」Facebook 的沟通负责人、英国前副总理尼克・克莱格爵士（Sir Nick Clegg）说。
Still, Facebook’s experiment is just a start. The Trump decision will be contentious. But if there is one thing all can agree on, it is that a single board will not alone solve social media’s ills.