来自轻芒：大家好，我是轻芒的编辑 ronghui。今天我们和大家一起阅读的来自《纽约时报》的文章，是关于视频网站 YouTube 如何影响巴西社会的报道。文章以一个普通巴西男生想学吉他的经历开始，讲述 YouTube 的推荐系统如何根据人们的选择分析他们他们的喜好留住用户、继而对人们的政治态度产生影响。对 YouTube 来说，它的诉求就是增加人们停留在 YouTube 上的时长。但研究人员却发现，虽然 YouTube 不承认有目的、也不愿意向媒体展示数据，但从这篇文章中你已经可以看出，这个视频网站在政治、医疗、教育等方面对社会民众的影响。我们也可以借此反思发生在我们身边的事情。这篇文章的作者是 Max Fisher 和 Amanda Taub，图文版权来自《纽约时报》。
*Matheus Dominguez 正在巴西的尼泰罗伊拍摄 YouTube 视频。摄影 Dado Galdieri，图文版权来自《纽约时报》
NITERÓI, Brazil — When Matheus Dominguez was 16, YouTube recommended a video that changed his life.
巴西尼泰罗伊电 – 马特乌斯·多明格斯 16 岁那年，YouTube 推荐的一段视频改变了他的人生。
He was in a band in Niterói, a beach-ringed city in Brazil, and practiced guitar by watching tutorials online.
YouTube had recently installed a powerful new artificial intelligence system that learned from user behavior and paired videos with recommendations for others. One day, it directed him to an amateur guitar teacher named Nando Moura, who had gained a wide following by posting videos about heavy metal, video games and, most of all, politics.
In colorful and paranoid far-right rants, Moura accused feminists, teachers and mainstream politicians of waging vast conspiracies. Dominguez was hooked.
As his time on the site grew, YouTube recommended videos from other far-right figures. One was a lawmaker named Jair Bolsonaro, then a marginal figure in national politics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right community in Brazil, where the platform has become more widely watched than all but one TV channel.
随着多明格斯在该站点停留时间的增加，YouTube 又推荐了其他极右翼者的视频。其中一个是名叫雅伊尔·博索纳罗的议员，此人当时在国家政坛里尚不入流，但却是巴西 YouTube 极右翼群体中的明星。YouTube 在巴西的影响力极为广泛，已经到了只有一家电视频道的收视率能超过 YouTube 的程度。
Last year, he became President Bolsonaro.
“YouTube became the social media platform of the Brazilian right,” said Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek political office.
「YouTube 成了巴西右翼的社交媒体平台，」现年 17 岁的多明格斯说。这个瘦长的小伙子说自己也打算从政。
Members of the nation’s newly empowered far right — from grassroots organizers to federal lawmakers — say their movement would not have risen so far, so fast, without YouTube’s recommendation engine.
从基层组织者到联邦议员，该国新近上台的极右翼组织成员纷纷表示，若没有 YouTube 的推荐，他们的运动不会发展得如此迅速。
New research has found they may be correct. YouTube’s search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels in Brazil.
A New York Times investigation in Brazil found that, time and again, videos promoted by the site have upended central elements of daily life.
Teachers describe classrooms made unruly by students who quote from YouTube conspiracy videos or who, encouraged by right-wing YouTube stars, secretly record their instructors.
教师们说，学生们引用 YouTube 上的阴谋论视频，或在 YouTube 右翼明星的鼓动下偷拍教师，让课堂变得难以驾驭。
Some parents look to “Dr. YouTube” for health advice but get dangerous misinformation instead, hampering the nation’s efforts to fight diseases like Zika. Viral videos have incited death threats against public health advocates.
And in politics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office alongside Bolsonaro, some winning by historic margins. Most still use the platform, governing the world’s fourth-largest democracy through internet-honed trolling and provocation.
在政治上，一波右翼 YouTube 明星与博索纳罗一起参选公职，其中一些人以前所未有的优势获胜。他们中的大部分仍活跃在该平台上，借助互联网发酵出的言论和挑衅，统治着这个世界第四大民主国家。
YouTube’s recommendation system is engineered to maximize watchtime, among other factors, the company says, but not to favor any political ideology. The system suggests what to watch next, often playing the videos automatically, in a never-ending quest to keep us glued to our screens.
But the emotions that draw people in — like fear, doubt and anger — are often central features of conspiracy theories, and in particular, experts say, of right-wing extremism.
As the system suggests more provocative videos to keep users watching, it can direct them toward extreme content they might otherwise never find. And it is designed to lead users to new topics to pique new interest — a boon for channels like Moura’s that use pop culture as a gateway to far-right ideas.
The system now drives 70% of total time on the platform, the company says. As viewership skyrockets globally, YouTube is bringing in more than $1 billion a month, some analysts believe.
YouTube 公司称，该系统目前控制着平台 70% 的播放时间。有分析人士认为，随着全球观众人数的飙升，YouTube 每月的收入超过 10 亿。
Zeynep Tufekci, a social media scholar, has called it “one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.”
Company representatives disputed the studies’ methodology and said that the platform’s systems do not privilege any one viewpoint or direct users toward extremism. However, company representatives conceded some of the findings and promised to make changes.
YouTube 的发言人则对研究方法提出了质疑，称平台系统没有偏向任何一种观点，也没有将用户引向极端主义。不过，YouTube 方面也承认了部分研究结果，并承诺做出改变。
Farshad Shadloo, a spokesman, said YouTube has “invested heavily in the policies, resources and products” to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation, adding, “we’ve seen that authoritative content is thriving in Brazil and is some of the most recommended content on the site.”
Danah Boyd, founder of the think tank Data & Society, attributed the disruption in Brazil to YouTube’s unrelenting push for viewer engagement, and the revenues it generates.
数据与社会智库创始人达纳·博伊德认为，巴西的混乱应当归咎于 YouTube 对观众黏度以及由此产生的收益的持续推动。
Though corruption scandals and a deep recession had already devastated Brazil’s political establishment and left many Brazilians ready for a break with the status quo, Boyd called YouTube’s impact a worrying indication of the platform’s growing impact on democracies worldwide.
“This is happening everywhere,” she said.
The Party of YouTube
Maurício Martins, the local vice president of Bolsonaro’s party in Niterói, credited “most” of the party’s recruitment to YouTube — including his own.
He was killing time on the site one day, he recalled, when the platform showed him a video by a right-wing blogger. He watched out of curiosity. It showed him another, and then another.
“Before that, I didn’t have an ideological political background,” Martins said. YouTube’s auto-playing recommendations, he declared, were “my political education.”
马丁斯说：「在那之前，我没有任何政治意识背景。」他称 YouTube 的自动播放推荐是「我的政治启蒙课」。
“It was like that with everyone,” he said.
The platform’s political influence is increasingly felt in Brazilian schools.
“Sometimes I’m watching videos about a game, and all of a sudden it’s a Bolsonaro video,” said Inzaghi D., a 17-year-old high schooler in Niterói.
「有时候，我正在看比赛，突然就出现了博索纳罗的视频，」在尼泰罗伊读高中的 17 岁的因扎吉·D. 说。
More and more, his fellow students are making extremist claims, often citing as evidence YouTube stars like Moura, the guitarist-turned-conspiracist.
他的同学们开始越来越频繁地发表极端主义言论，且常常引用摇身一变成阴谋论者的吉他手莫拉等 YouTube 明星作为例证。
“It’s the main source that kids have to get information,” he said.
Few illustrate YouTube’s influence better than Carlos Jordy.
卡洛斯·乔迪的故事或许可以更清晰地反映 YouTube 的影响力。
Musclebound and heavily tattooed — his left hand bears a flaming skull with diamond eyes — he joined the City Council in 2017 with few prospects of rising through traditional politics. So Jordy took inspiration from bloggers like Moura and his political mentor, Bolsonaro, turning his focus to YouTube.
乔迪肌肉发达，满身纹身，左手上纹着一个带有钻石眼的燃烧骷髅图案。2017 年，他加入市议会，但通过传统政治途径继续上升的希望渺茫。于是，他受莫拉及其政治引路人博索纳罗等博主启发，将自己的努力方向转到了 YouTube。
He posted videos accusing local teachers of conspiring to indoctrinate students into communism. The videos won him a “national audience,” he said, and propelled his stunning rise, only two years later, to the federal legislature.
“If social media didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Jair Bolsonaro wouldn’t be president.”
Down The Rabbit Hole
A few hundred miles from Niterói, a team of researchers led by Virgilio Almeida at the Federal University of Minas Gerais hunched over computers, trying to understand how YouTube shapes its users’ reality.
在距尼泰罗伊几百英里的地方，由米纳斯吉拉斯联邦大学的维尔吉利奥·阿尔梅达带领的一队研究人员扑在电脑前，试图了解 YouTube 是如何影响着用户的现实生活。
The team analyzed trans from thousands of videos, as well as the comments beneath them. Right-wing channels in Brazil, they found, had seen their audiences expand far faster than others did, and seemed to be tilting the site’s overall political content.
In the months after YouTube changed its algorithm, positive mentions of Bolsonaro ballooned. So did mentions of conspiracy theories that he had floated. This began as polls still showed him to be deeply unpopular, suggesting that the platform was doing more than merely reflecting political trends.
A team at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center set out to test whether the Brazilian far right’s meteoric rise on the platform had been boosted by YouTube’s recommendation engine.
哈佛大学伯克曼克莱因中心的一支团队进行了一项测试，希望找出 YouTube 的推荐引擎是否推动了巴西极右翼在网络平台上的迅速崛起。
Jonas Kaiser and Yasodara Córdova, with Adrian Rauchfleisch of National Taiwan University, programmed a Brazil-based server to enter a popular channel or search term, then open YouTube’s top recommendations, then follow the recommendations on each of those, and so on.
乔纳斯·凯泽、雅索达拉·科尔多瓦以及国立台湾大学的阿德里安·劳赫弗莱施编写了一个基于巴西的服务程序，让它输入一个流行频道或搜索词，然后打开 YouTube 的热门推荐，再按照推荐一个接一个地循环下去。
By repeating this thousands of times, the researchers tracked how the platform moved users from one video to the next. They found that after users watched a video about politics or even entertainment, YouTube’s recommendations often favored right-wing, conspiracy-filled channels like Moura’s.
Crucially, users who watched one far-right channel would often be shown many more.
The algorithm had united once-marginal channels — and then built an audience for them, the researchers concluded.
One of those channels belonged to Bolsonaro, who had long used the platform to post hoaxes and conspiracies. Though a YouTube early adopter, his online following had done little to expand his political base, which barely existed on a national level.
Then Brazil’s political system collapsed just as YouTube’s popularity there soared. Bolsonaro’s views had not changed. But YouTube’s far-right, where he was a major figure, saw its audience explode, helping to prime large numbers of Brazilians for his message at a time when the country was ripe for a political shift.
随后，在 YouTube 在巴西人气高涨之际，巴西的政治体系崩溃了。博索纳罗的观点并没有改变，但 YouTube 上以他为代表的极右翼群体却感受到了观众的爆炸式增长。等到巴西政治转型时机成熟，大批巴西人已经通过网站熟悉了他的观点。
YouTube challenged the researchers’ methodology and said its internal data contradicted their findings. But the company declined the Times’ requests for that data, as well as requests for certain statistics that would reveal whether or not the researchers’ findings were accurate.
*Gisleangela Oliveira dos Santos 带她的女儿离开家，她的女儿患有头小畸形。Gisleangela Oliveira 看了 YouTube 上看了关于 Zika 是通过疫苗或杀虫剂传播的视频。
The conspiracies were not limited to politics. Many Brazilians searching YouTube for health care information found videos that terrified them: some said Zika was being spread by vaccines, or by the insecticides meant to curb the spread of the mosquito-borne disease that has ravaged northeastern Brazil.
阴谋论不仅局限于政治领域。很多巴西人在 YouTube 上搜索医疗保健信息时都会发现一些骇人的视频。有视频称，寨卡病毒是通过疫苗或杀虫剂传播的，而那些杀虫本是用来剂抑肆虐巴西东北部地区的蚊媒疾病。
The videos appeared to rise on the platform in much the same way as extremist political content: by making alarming claims and promising forbidden truths that kept users glued to their screens.
Doctors, social workers and former government officials said the videos had created the foundation of a public health crisis as frightened patients refused vaccines and even anti-Zika insecticides.
The consequences have been pronounced in poorer communities like Maceió, a city in Brazil’s northeast that was among the hardest hit by Zika.
“Fake news is a virtual war,” said Flávio Santana, a pediatric neurologist based in Maceió. “We have it coming from every direction.”
When Zika first spread in 2015, health workers distributed larvicides that killed the mosquitoes that spread the disease.
Not long after YouTube installed its new recommendation engine, Santana’s patients began telling him that they’d seen videos blaming Zika on vaccines — and, later, on larvicides. Many refused both.
但 YouTube 使用新的推荐引擎后不久，桑塔纳的病人开始告诉他，他们看到一些视频将寨卡归咎于疫苗，后来又说是杀虫剂惹的祸。很多人因此拒绝使用。
Dr. Auriene Oliviera, an infectious disease specialist at the same hospital, said patients increasingly defied her advice, including on procedures crucial to their child’s survival.
“They say, ‘No, I’ve researched it on Google, I’ve seen it on YouTube,’ ” she said.
「他们说，『不，我在 Google 上查过，在 YouTube 上看过』。」
Medical providers, she said, were competing “every single day” against “Dr. Google and Dr. YouTube” — and they were losing.
她说，医务工作者「每天」都在同「Google 医生和 YouTube 医生」竞争，但他们眼看就要输了。
Mardjane Nunes, a Zika expert who recently left a senior role in the Health Ministry, said health workers across Brazil have been reporting similar experiences. As more communities refuse the anti-Zika larvicide, she added, the disease is seeing a small resurgence.
“Social media is winning,” she said.
Brazil’s medical community had reason to feel outmatched. The Harvard researchers found that YouTube’s systems frequently directed users who searched for information on Zika, or even those who watched a reputable video on health issues, toward conspiracy channels.
A spokesman for YouTube confirmed the Times’ findings, calling them unintended, and said the company would change how its search tool surfaced videos related to Zika.
YouTube 的一名发言人证实了 New York Times 的发现，但称这绝非故意，并表示公司将修改搜索引擎筛选寨卡视频的算法。
An ‘Ecosystem of Hate’
As the far right rose, many of its leading voices had learned to weaponize the conspiracy videos, offering their vast audiences a target: people to blame. Eventually, the YouTube conspiracists turned their spotlight on Debora Diniz, a women’s rights activist whose abortion advocacy had long made her a target of the far right.
Bernardo Küster, a YouTube star whose homemade rants had won him 750,000 subscribers and an endorsement from Bolsonaro, accused her of involvement in the supposed Zika plots.
在 YouTube 上凭借自制视频赢得了 75 万名订阅者，还得到博索纳罗认可的明星贝尔纳多·库斯特指责迪尼斯参与了所谓的寨卡阴谋。
The very people working to help families affected by Zika, their videos implied, were behind the disease. Backed by shadowy foreigners, their goal was to abolish Brazil’s abortion ban — or even make abortions mandatory.
As far-right and conspiracy channels began citing one another, YouTube’s recommendation system learned to string their videos together. However implausible any individual rumor might be on its own, joined together, they created the impression that dozens of disparate sources were revealing the same terrifying truth.
“It feels like the connection is made by the viewer, but the connection is made by the system,” Diniz said.
Threats of rape and torture filled Diniz’s phone and email. Some cited her daily routines. Many echoed claims from Küster’s videos, she said.
Küster gleefully mentioned, though never explicitly endorsed, the threats. That kept him just within YouTube’s rules.
库斯特虽从未明确表示支持这些威胁，但提起来却不无得意。他的做法恰好没有违反 YouTube 的规则。
When the university where Diniz taught received a warning that a gunman would shoot her and her students, and the police said they could no longer guarantee her safety, she left Brazil.
“The YouTube system of recommending the next video and the next video,” she said, had created “an ecosystem of hate.”
“‘I heard here that she’s an enemy of Brazil. I hear in the next one that feminists are changing family values. And the next one I hear that they receive money from abroad” she said. “That loop is what leads someone to say ‘I will do what has to be done.’ ”
“We need the companies to face their role,” Diniz said. “Ethically, they are responsible.”
As conspiracies spread on YouTube, video makers targeted aid groups whose work touches on controversial issues like abortion. Even some families that had long relied on such groups came to wonder if the videos might be true, and began to avoid them.
随着阴谋论在 YouTube 上的蔓延，视频制作者们又把目标对准了援助组织，后者的工作内容涉及诸如堕胎等争议问题。甚至有些长期依赖援助的家庭也因视频宣传起了疑心，开始回避援助组织。
In Brazil, this is a growing online practice known as “linchamento” — lynching. Bolsonaro was an early pioneer, spreading videos in 2012 that falsely accused left-wing academics of plotting to force schools to distribute “gay kits” to convert children to homosexuality.
Jordy, Bolsonaro’s tattooed Niterói protégé, was untroubled to learn that his own YouTube campaign, accusing teachers of spreading communism, had turned their lives upside down.
博索纳托在尼泰罗伊的追随者、纹身仔乔迪，在得知自己那些指责教师传播共产主义思想的 YouTube 视频完全破坏了教师们的生活后，显得毫不在乎。
One of those teachers, Valeria Borges, said she and her colleagues had been overwhelmed with messages of hate, creating a climate of fear.
Jordy, far from disputing this, said it had been his goal. “I wanted her to feel fear,” he said.
“It’s a culture war we’re fighting,” he explained. “This is what I came into office to do.”
‘The Dictatorship of the Like’
Ground zero for politics by YouTube may be the São Paulo headquarters of Movimento Brasil Livre, which formed to agitate for the 2016 impeachment of left-wing President Dilma Rousseff. Its members trend young, middle-class, right-wing and extremely online.
Renan Santos, the group’s national coordinator, gestured to a door marked “the YouTube Division” and said, “This is the heart of things.”
Inside, eight young men poked at editing software. One was stylizing an image of Benito Mussolini for a video arguing that fascism had been wrongly blamed on the right.
But even some people here fear the platform’s impact on democracy. Santos, for example, called social media a “weapon,” adding that some people around Bolsonaro “want to use this weapon to pressure institutions in a way that I don’t see as responsible.”
The group’s co-founder, a man-bunned former rock guitarist name Pedro D’Eyrot, said “we have something here that we call the dictatorship of the like.”
Reality, he said, is shaped by whatever message goes most viral.
Even as he spoke, a two-hour YouTube video was captivating the nation. Titled “1964” for the year of Brazil’s military coup, it argued that the takeover had been necessary to save Brazil from communism.
就在他说出这番话的同时，一段时长两小时的 YouTube 视频吸引了全国上下的目光。这段以巴西军事政变之年「1964」命名的视频称，为了把巴西从共产主义思想中拯救出来，有必要夺取政权。
Dominguez, the teenager learning to play guitar, said the video persuaded him that his teachers had fabricated the horrors of military rule.
Borges, the history teacher vilified on YouTube, said it brought back memories of military curfews, disappeared activists and police beatings.
在 YouTube 上受到攻击诋毁的历史教师博尔热斯则说，这让人联想起了军事宵禁、积极人士失踪和警察殴打民众的情景。
“I don’t think I’ve had my last beating,” she said.
原文标题：How YouTube Radicalized Brazil
原文作者：Max Fisher and Amanda Taub
@2019 The New York Times