纽约时报文摘 | 危险的“人肉搜索”

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When social media emerged in my country almost 10 years ago, my peers and I were excited. Here was a space where Chinese people like us could share everything, we thought, from bits of daily life to our unvarnished views on public affairs. We were naïvely optimistic back then about the prospect, as a famous phrase at the time put it, of “onlookers changing China.”
大约10年前,当社交媒体出现在我的国家时,我的同事和我很兴奋。在这个空间里,像我这样的中国人能够分享一切我们想到的东西,从日常生活中的点滴到我们对公共事务的坦率观点。当时,对于“围观改变中国”这句名言所带来的可能性,我们都天真地保持乐观。

Things did not turn out that way. Nearly a decade later, the growing silence on social media when it comes to sensitive public issues is deafening. Most of us now refrain from posting things that are potentially controversial. That’s in part because of tightened censorship. But it’s also because of a phenomenon called “renrou sousuo,” or “human flesh search” — the deliberate marshaling of the forces of the internet against those deemed harmful to the public good. This, in its own way, has been just as responsible for the chilling effect.
但事情并非是那样。近10年后,当谈到敏感的公共话题时,社交媒体上愈发蔓延的沉默是压倒性的。我们中的大多数人现在都避免发布可能引起争议的事情。这部分是因为审查制度的加强。但也是因为一种被称为“人肉搜索”的现象——即有意地集结互联网的力量,对抗那些被视为对公众利益有害的人。这种现象以它特有的方式造成了寒蝉效应,其影响并不亚于审查。

The term sounds creepy — and it is. “Human flesh searches” are all about punishing people whom the cyberspace masses decide are deserving of public attention and scorn. It’s effectively an effort to use crowdsourcing to reveal and broadcast the real-life identities of those who had been essentially anonymous online — call it doxxing with Chinese characteristics.
这个词语听起来让人心里发毛——事实也的确是这样。“人肉搜索”都是在惩罚那些网络空间群众认为值得公众关注和鄙视的人。它实际上就是要用众包的形式,把那些本来匿名的人的真实身份揭发和传播出来——可以称之为具有中国特色的doxxing(恶意收集个人信息)。

Such searches can delve into territory like people’s whereabouts, their relationships and even details about their relatives and close friends. People’s lives and careers can be ruined, even their safety jeopardized, once they’ve been targeted by such a hunt.
这种搜索能深入挖掘各类领域,比如人们的行踪、情爱关系,甚至是他们亲属或密友的详细信息。一旦被这样的行动盯上,他们的生活和事业可能会被毁掉,甚至人身安全有虞。

When the phenomenon arose in China in the late 2000s, its targets were typically morally unambiguous. One of the earliest cases involved a woman who posted acts of animal abuse online — one example included stomping a kitten to death with stilettos — and stirred up anger across the nation.
2000年代末这种现象在中国出现时,通常有着明确的道德目标。早期案例之一是一个在网上发布虐待动物行为的女人——其中包括用高跟鞋踩死一只小猫——在全国激起了公愤。

The practice was soon picked up by people seeking to expose the extravagance of allegedly corrupt, or at least not public-minded, local officials. In 2012, for instance, a man who appeared to be a party cadre was captured on video grinning at the scene of a bus crash that had killed 36 passengers in Shaanxi Province. The internet was furious. Soon this person’s name and position were unearthed, along with his expensive tastes: designer watches, belts and eyeglasses that were incompatible with his supposedly meager government pay. Social media users labeled him Watch Uncle and he was eventually dismissed from his post.
这种做法很快就被一些人用来曝光涉嫌腐败的地方官员,他们铺张浪费,或者至少是缺乏公众意识。例如,2012年,陕西省一辆公交车发生撞车事故,造成36名乘客死亡,一名男子在事故现场露出笑容的视频被拍了下来。互联网上一片愤怒。很快,这个人的名字和职位,连同他昂贵的名表、皮带和眼镜都遭到曝光,这些都不符合他本应微薄的政府工作收入。社交媒体用户给他贴上了“表叔”的标签,他最终被解职。

At the time, some believed that in a society where justice through the judicial system remains elusive, this kind of citizen-driven hunt had a role to play as a sort of ad hoc, ground-up form of the rule of law. It was also perhaps the only way for ordinary Chinese citizens to offer some sort of check on the excesses of government officials.
当时一些人认为,在一个司法体系难以实现公正的社会,这种由公民驱动的搜捕作为一种临时的、自下而上的法治形式发挥了作用。这或许是唯一的方法,可以让普通中国公民对政府官员的放纵行为进行某种监督。

But these sort of quasi-juridical activities quickly subsided. Potential targets learned their lessons and started keeping lower profiles. The government began pushing its own anti-corruption campaign later that year, which meant that officials became much more cautious about anything that might hint at a luxurious lifestyle and also that spontaneous exposure of official wrongdoing outside state-run media would no longer be tolerated.
但这类准司法活动很快平息下来。潜在目标吸取了教训,开始保持低调。同年晚些时候,政府开始推行自己的反腐运动,这意味着官员们对任何可能暗示奢侈生活方式的东西都变得更加谨慎,也意味着政府不再容忍官员的不当行为在官方媒体之外遭到网民自发曝光。

And so in recent years, more often than not, human flesh searches have been associated with rising ultranationalism in China. Vigilantes today dig through people’s comments online for any sign of unpatriotic sins. Today, in addition to renrou sousuo, we have another creepy term for these activities: “ba pi,” which literally means “to skin,” that is, to expose.
因此,近年来,人肉搜索在中国往往与极端民族主义联系在一起。如今义务警员在网上搜索评论,寻找任何不爱国的迹象。除了人肉搜索,这种活动现在还有一个令人毛骨悚然的名称:“扒皮”,字面意思是“剥掉皮肤”,也就是曝光。

One of the most high-profile cases of this unfolded in the summer of 2017, when Yang Shuping, a University of Maryland student from China, delivered a graduation speech in which she drew a parallel between China’s air pollution and its restrictions on free speech.
最引人注目的例子之一发生在2017年夏天,当时马里兰大学(University of Maryland)来自中国的学生杨舒平在毕业演讲中把中国的空气污染和言论自由限制相提并论。

She was immediately a target of renrou sousuo: The state-owned media depicted her as an unpatriotic traitor belittling the homeland, while angry netizens spread everything they could find out about her, including the address of her family back in China. Death threats were made on social media, and there were rumors, difficult to confirm, that some social media users even paid a visit to her parents’ home. Ms. Yang eventually apologized and deleted all her posts on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
她马上就成了人肉搜索的目标:官方媒体将她描述成不爱国的叛徒,一心给祖国抹黑;愤怒的网民则把关于她的一切能找到的信息都发布出来,包括她在中国的家庭住址。社交媒体上出现了死亡威胁,还有一些难以证实的传言称,一些社交媒体用户甚至去了她父母家。杨舒平最终道歉,并删除了她在微博上的所有帖子。

More recently, a victim of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March, a young Chinese woman, unexpectedly became a target. The animosity toward her after her tragic death appears to have been prompted by a combination of nationalism and class resentment: Photos she’d posted showed that she was probably from a well-to-do family, and there were rumors that she’d had a foreign boyfriend.
在最近的例子里,今年3月埃塞俄比亚航空公司(Ethiopian Airlines)坠机事件的受害者,一个年轻的中国女人,出人意料地成了攻击目标。在她不幸去世后,人们对她的恶意似乎结合了民族主义与阶级仇恨:她发布的照片显示她可能来自一个富裕的家庭,还有传言说她有一个外国男友。

Social media users dug up her Weibo account, worked out what school she’d attended and spread around old pictures. “When I see you staying in a hotel that costs thousands of yuan a night, eating fancy food, and that you can afford to fly to Kenya when you want to see giraffes, even though I won’t say I’m happy for your demise, I definitely do not have sympathy for you,” one commenter wrote. Another said, “Our country isn’t vast enough for you to spend vacation time in?”
社交媒体用户搜出了她的微博账号,弄清了她上的是哪所学校,并且传播她的旧照片。“当我看你住着几千块钱一晚的酒店,每天锦衣玉食,看个长颈鹿要去而且马上可以去非洲肯尼亚的时候,虽然我不会幸灾乐祸,但也绝对同情不起来。”“一个评论者写道。另一个人写道:“祖国那么大,不够你度假的吗?”

I am not arguing that all those targeted have been innocent. There have been occasions during which the tens of thousands of internet users who have mobilized to “right wrongs” were fueled by legitimate motives. Yet whether the questionable behavior concerns fortune flaunting, supposedly unpatriotic political views or expensive vacations, society needs to consider how much public harassment or privacy invasion, if any, is justified.
我并不是说所有目标都是无辜的。在某些情况下,数万名动员起来“纠错”的互联网用户是出于正当动机。然而,无论这种可疑的行为是否涉及炫富、据称不爱国的政治观点或昂贵的度假,社会都需要考虑,有多少(如果有的话)公开骚扰或隐私侵犯是正当的。

As a formerly outspoken social media user who once had a big following, I have experienced my own share of online abuse. I’ve been inundated with personal attacks and photos intended to intimidate, though nothing as horrifying as a human flesh search. That I have since opted to lay low and stay relatively silent on social media is not a coincidence. It isn’t just me: Fear of zealous vigilantes on the internet has led more and more people to restrict unorthodox political views or anecdotes of their private lives to family and close friends.
我曾经也是一个有什么说什么的社交媒体用户,拥有不少关注者,也曾经遭受过网络暴力。我收到过大量的人身攻击和恐吓照片,不过还不至于可怕到人肉搜索。所以后来我选择低调行事,在社交媒体上保持相对沉默,这绝非巧合。不只有我一个人这样:越来越多的人害怕网上那些狂热的义务警员,只能和家人与密友谈论非正统的政治观点或者个人生活的琐事。

Human flesh searches had remained generally unfettered by regulations until 2017, when the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced that depending on the severity of the invasion and dispersion of personal information, a perpetrator could got to jail time. It remains to be seen, however, whether this regulation will simply be applied selectively to punish those the authorities dislike, as has happened in the case of restrictions on “rumor spreading.”
以前,人肉搜索基本上不受法律约束,直到2017年最高人民法院和最高人民检察院宣布,根据侵犯和散布个人信息的严重程度,可对违法者处以徒刑。然而,这项规定是否会像限制“传谣”那样,仅仅是选择性地惩罚那些当局不喜欢的人,目前还有待观察。

We cannot count on vigilantism to change Chinese society for the better. It ought to be an independent legal system — that sort that we lack — rather than outbursts of internet fury, public humiliation, mass intimidation and populist vengeance that are responsible for upholding justice. Nor can cyberbullying ever lead to real patriotism.
我们不能指望这种义务警员制度会让中国社会变得更好。我们应该建立独立的司法体系——这正是我们所缺乏的——而不是互联网上以伸张正义为由爆发出来的愤怒、公开羞辱、大规模恐吓和民粹主义复仇。网络霸凌也不能带来真正的爱国主义。

And everyone is entitled to privacy protection, even those whose morals might seem dubious, because privacy and freedom of speech are like two sides of a coin: Each is required for the other to thrive. And the last thing a country desperate for freer expression needs is a self-righteous crowd doing the authorities’ work for them.
每个人的隐私都应当受到保护,即使是道德上存疑的人,因为隐私和言论自由就像硬币的两面,彼此都需要对方才能茁壮成长。一个极度渴望言论自由的国家,最不需要的就是自命正确的公众帮助有关部门审查言论。

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