又中又英——“Bait and switch”

  Last week, Twitter did something that infuriated (angered) US President Donald Trump. It attached a fact-check warning to one of Trump's tweets about voting methods and hid another tweet about the protests in Minnesota. By attaching a fact-check warning, Twitter wanted users to know what Trump said was not factual. Trump was so furious he signed an executive order to weaken the powers of social media such as Twitter and facebook. A 1996 US law protects website operators from lawsuits if they block posts they consider unacceptable, such as obscene material. Trump's executive order said this protection should no longer apply if social media edits, blocks, or adds warnings to political posts.

  The executive order is certain to be challenged in court. But the US Attorney General William Barr intends to proceed. He said the 1996 law is outdated because website operators were not as powerful as they are now. He said Twitter and facebook have become behemoths. He used an interesting expression to criticize these behemoths. The expression he used was "bait and switch". A behemoth is something extremely large and powerful. It is often used to describe a large and powerful animal, such as a dinosaur. But it can also mean a very large and powerful company. The word "bait" can be used as a noun or a verb with different meanings.

  The piece of food fishermen put on fishing hooks to catch fish is called bait. But as a verb it can mean to trick people into doing something. If a company falsely offers something cheap online and you accept but you are then told the product is sold out and the company persuades you to buy something more expensive, it's called baiting. The word "switch" means to change from one thing to another. The expression "bait and switch" means people or companies trick or bait you with something and then switch it to something else. Barr claimed companies like Twitter baited people when they were small but now that they have become behemoths, they have switched to something different by limiting free speech.

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  上星期,推特做了一些令美國總統特朗普火冒三丈(infuriated)的事情。它給特朗普一條關於投票方法的推文加上「事實核查」的警告標籤,又遮蔽了他另一條有關明尼蘇達州示威的推文。推特加上「事實核查」的警告標籤,是想讓用戶知道特朗普所說的並沒有事實根據。特朗普大發雷霆,簽發了一道行政命令,要削弱推特以及臉書這些社交媒體的權力。一條一九九六年的美國法例,保障網絡營運商若攔截或限制一些他們認為冒犯性的帖文,例如淫穢內容時,他們就可免負法律責任。特朗普的行政命令則指,若社交媒體編輯、攔截政治類的帖文,又或為其加上警告字句,這樣的免責保障應已不再適用。

  這道行政命令定必面臨法律挑戰。然而,美國司法部長威廉‧巴爾仍打算要繼續展開草擬程序。他說,一九九六年的法例已經過時,因為當年的網絡營運商並不如現在般強大。他說,推特與臉書已經變成了「龐然巨物」(behemoths)。他用了一個有趣的習語去批評這些龐然巨物(behemoths),他用的習語是“bait and switch”。A behemoth是指孔武有力的龐然大物,通常用來形容巨獸,例如恐龍;但它也可以用來指一個非常大而有影響力的企業。Bait一字可作名詞或動詞用,有不同的意思。

  漁民放在魚鈎上用來釣魚的魚餌就叫Bait;但作動詞用的話,它可解作放誘餌、設圈套令人上當。若一家公司在網上假意提供一樣很便宜的貨物,你接受後卻被告之那件貨物已售罄,那家公司進而游說你買另一樣更昂貴的貨物,這就叫Baiting。Switch是指由一樣轉換至另一樣。習語“bait and switch”即「誘導轉向法」,人們或公司誘騙(bait)你買一樣商品,然後轉換(switch)成另一樣昂貴的商品。巴爾聲稱像推特的公司,在規模還小的時候誘騙(baited)人們,但現在他們已成龐然大物(behemoths)了,就限制言論自由,轉變(switched)成截然不同的平台。中譯:七刻

Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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