To Purge Some of Social Media's Ugliness, an Unlikely Lesson From Wall Street 社群網站除弊 不妨學華爾街
文/Andrew Ross Sorkin
Exactly a year ago, Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, testified before Congress and apologized for his company's role in enabling "fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech."
As Silicon Valley grapples with its version of becoming too big to fail, Zuckerberg and his industry peers might take lessons from Wall Street, whose leaders have some experience with government scrutiny. (On Wednesday, bank chief executives were being grilled by Congress.)
Although it won't address all of Big Tech's problems, a simple rule that bolsters the banking system could do a lot to clean up some of the uglier aspects of social media that Zuckerberg felt compelled to apologize for.
The concept is "know your customer" — or KYC, as it's called on Wall Street — and it's straightforward: Given concerns about privacy, security and fraud when it comes to money, no bank is allowed to take on a new customer without verifying its existence and vetting its background.
The idea of applying such a rule to social media has been floated before, but it has so far failed to take hold. Now may be the right time.
Consider this: Facebook has said it shut down more than 1.5 billion fake accounts from April through September last year (yes, that's a "B" in billion). That was up from the 1.3 billion such accounts it eliminated in the six previous months. To put those numbers in context, Facebook has a reported user base of 2.3 billion.
What if social media companies had to verify their users the same way banks do? You'd probably feel more confident that you were interacting with real people and were not just a target for malicious bots.
First, let's acknowledge the practical considerations. Vetting the vast universe of those on social media would be a gargantuan task.
When I broached the idea of applying a "know your customer" principle to their business, several senior executives at social media companies recoiled at the prospect, questioning how they would pull off such a huge feat, especially in emerging markets where many people lack credit cards, and even fixed street addresses can be hard to come by.
Then there are the legitimate complaints about Facebook and its ilk already knowing too much about users. Who would want them to know even more? And what would the companies do to protect personal information better than they have in the past?
On the pitch, soccer is a cipher for war, with uniforms, formations, victory and defeat. Beyond the pitch, soccer is power, with owners seemingly using their teams as much for the corollary benefits as for any love of the game.
Sports in general, but especially soccer — given its global appeal — are an ideal way for tycoons to purchase prestige and for countries to burnish their reputations, particularly when governments have unsavory associations with issues such as human rights abuse, gender inequality or anti-democratic politics.
"Soccer and the Arab World: The Revolution of the Round Ball," an exhibition at the Arab World Institute in Paris that runs through July 21, surveys the modern history of the sport in Africa and the Middle East, charting changes in gender and racial politics, government and finance, through the lens of the game.
Viewing the Arab world from the French perspective, the show ranges from midcentury events like the rise of the first Algerian national team, whose players broke away from France even though Algeria was still a colony, to more recent ones, like the purchase in 2011 of the French soccer team, Paris St.-Germain, by a Qatari state-run company.
Binding the show together is an exploration of political clout: using soccer to explore the increasing reach of some Arab nations, while France's global influence is decreasing — seen in the cultural legitimacy that the sport provides.
"New Arab countries are in the game," said the show's curator, Aurélie Clemente-Ruiz, on a recent tour of the exhibition. "It's not only North Africa or the Middle East but all of these countries from the Arabian Peninsula — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates — that are very involved in soccer, and it's a way for them to exist in an international point of view. It's a real soft power and, to them, very useful."
At the root is the ability of sports to shape perceptions. For the likes of Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, being associated with global soccer can help divert attention from the international indignation at the killing of a dissident.
For Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, one of the United Arab Emirates, his ownership and lavish spending on the English team Manchester City automatically buys a certain fame and influence. Similar reasons inform Qatar's control of Paris St.-Germain and the country's efforts to win the right to host the men's World Cup in 2022.