[For background on what AmazonFAIL is, see my article at the Women's Media Center
: See my final post
on this topic, after the hacker theory was refuted by Amazon.]
As the day has worn on, more parts of the story are unfolding, and all these little tidbits at the intersection of tech, culture, media and commerce are more than fascinating. This is the kind of story that sends me down the rabbit hole of musing for days.
Let's start with the tech side of things
According to Jessica Valenti
(and her publisher, Seal Press), Amazon reps are claiming that this is a purely internal issue caused by the mysterious "glitch
" spoken of last night. I don't think the reps know what they're talking about, frankly. What I think is going on: there is a severe vulnerability in the Amazon flagging-for-inappropriate system, and it's been found and exploited by one or more nerds with too much time on their hands. Amazon's mistake, vis a vis the brave new world of social media, is two-fold:
- Refusing to acknowledge a vulnerability. People are reaching the point not just that they like transparency in dealing with people who hold lots of important info on their behalf, but they are coming to demand it. Amazon's "nothing more to see here" approach is damaging to the relationship they have with those outraged by the exploit.
- Refusing to acknowledge the pain of affected people. If you have an entire relationship built on trust (with personal info, with commitments to move products, with referrals and wishlists, etc), you have the obligation to have that uncomfortable sit-down when a betrayal is introduced to the relationship. Amazon hasn't done that yet. Yikes.
There's a livejournal blogger out there now claiming responsibility for the exploit. I won't link over, because I actually think he's full of crap, as do those who've attempted to reproduce his exploitative code
. It's a well known practice for those with no skillz to take responsibility for things they have no part of to build up their hacker cred. Please
. You know what tipped me off, for the record? The references to wanting to have anonymous sex with women and heroin from Craigslist. Fetishy-objectifying of women is common in the hacker community, for sure, but this guy is just... silly.