Full disclosure: we are regularly consumers of the wares available on Amazon.com, and I did have a Twitter account, if only briefly. Now that I’ve dispensed with the required information, let me way that both Amazon and Twitter can learn a lot from the Amazon’s recent debacle with its book sales rankings. While Twitterers tweeted about Amazon’s alleged anti-gay slant in its rankings mistakes, the Twitter medium also abetted if not encouraged people to post spurious information:
Over the weekend, Amazon faced a Twitter-driven storm of criticism after gay-themed books disappeared from its sales rankings, leading to accusations of bigotry and censorship. Somewhere along the way, a hacker claimed responsibility for the incident and posted a description of how he did it. Pretty quickly the claims were reverberating through the Twittersphere, where plenty of people, though by no means all, took the claims at face value.
“Not surprised that hacker may behind #AmazonFail but really surprised that Amazon has botched the PR end of this debacle and still silent,” tweeted ShawnDC.
I talked to several security experts on Monday who cast doubts on the hacker’s claims. “This is a hoax,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer of BT. “It makes no sense.” Paul Kocher, president and chief scientist of Cryptography Research, a computer security company in San Francisco, said: “The script examples wouldn’t (even if they worked as claimed) do anything of any sophistication.”
At a minimum, information must be true and not misleading if it is to engender our trust. I’ve already bagged Twitter as a waste of my time because I couldn’t care less about most people’s tweets, and now have even less reason to use information from that channel. I’ll start buying more of my books elsewhere, too, if I can’t trust Amazon to provide me with accurate information. A