Over the weekend, you might have noticed steam pouring out of Twitter and the blogosphere as Amazon customers reacted furiously to the news that the bookselling colossus seemed to be censoring gay and lesbian content from its bestseller lists and search algorithms.
An early response from customer service seemed to indicate that this was a policy change of some sort – that gay and lesbian content had been recategorized as ‘adult’, and therefore hidden from many parts of the site. A company statement later referred to the problem as a ‘glitch’.
But what really happened, claims an anonymous Amazon employee, was simply human error from an employee in France. He had filled out a field incorrectly in the database and 57,000 items were suddenly tagged as “adult”.
Poor Amazon employees were called back from their Easter break and worked on the issue until midnight on Easter Sunday, when it was handed over to the international team. I imagine there’s a certain French staffer who’s on the receiving end of an awful lot of angry emails today.
In the meantime, let’s have a little calm when this sort of thing happens in the future, shall we? Innocent before proven guilty, and all that?
Over the weekend, between 2.30pm and 3.25pm on Saturday, Google managed to blacklist the entire internet. I know that it’s a dangerous place, Goog, but that’s ridiculous. Next to every single one of its search results appeared This site may harm your computer”, and users would have to go through a warning page.
Normally, Google only flags pages this way if the site is known to host malware. Google updates its list, though, and during the weekend’s update, the website “/” was accidentally added to the list. Because that covers every website in the world, every website in the world was blocked. Nice work Google – I’m glad I’m not trusting you with pretty much all my important data. Oh… hang on a sec…
(via Official Google Blog)