Amazonfail; The Shitstorm Continues
Today ought to be an interesting day: first I want to see if amazon.com responds at all to the twitterstorm that erupted within the past 24 hours. A nice recap (and warning to anyone considering pissing off consumers in the internet age) is here, but the really interesting stuff comes from Dear Author. They analyze the metadata which allowed the "glitch," and they question how, excatly, this could happen. They also add:
Thus, as a “glitch” it was a remarkably targeted one that seems to support the emails that Mark Probst and Craig Seymour received from Amazon which was gay and lesbian works were deemed “adult” content regardless of actual content. This evidence appears to indicate that it isn’t so much a glitch but a specific policy. The question is then who implemented the policy of marking GLBT books as adult and who knew of the implementation? What kind of supervisory person signed off on it?
Alternatively, you could argue that it was a lazy programmer that decided to filter out all adult content and included GLBT for the heck of it but that doesn’t really address the emails to Probst and Seymour. You could also argue that it was a hacker that went in over the past week and inserted an algorithm that filtered out GLBT/erotic/sex content. Obviously, why the filter was implemented in such a way is a question only Amazon can answer.
I’d also like to point out that this is why newspapers are having a hard time: Check this news search for "amazon." Props to Seattle Post Intelligencer for actually covering the story, but as of right now, mostly what I see is careful, incomplete work (AP) and people bemused by twitter. This is news. This is news we wanted, so we got it from each other. Blogs had it. Twitter had links, and corrections, and updates. The AP had reserve. Maybe if they stopped suing people for using their stuff and actually did news, they’d be relevant.
Queerty has a nice sum-up:
The Inquistor mentions that at least one author was told that the decision was based on policy, not technical error. Even if it’s not, even if, beyond all plausible reality, Amazon’s software just randomly decided to mark a wide swath of gay literature as "adult", including the children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies, the fallout for the company is likely to be intense.
On Twitter, the rage towards the company continues unabated. It’s the number two topic (only outstripped by talk about the Mikeyy worm hitting PC’s) and users have already organized a full-on boycott,reaching over 9,000 signatures so far. The speed at which Twitter was able to take a single blog post by author Craig Seymour and transform it into a national news story shows just how much power the service has in collectively organizing direct political action. And of course, YouTube is now getting in on the act, as you can see from this entertaining call made about the Twilight book series: