Apr 21 2009   10:28AM GMT

Amazon finds itself fighting through a PR jungle

ComputerWeeklyStaff Profile: ComputerWeeklyStaff


Amazon’s PR department must have had a busy couple of weeks.

Last week the online retailer was attacked from all sides when books with gay themes, along with books on erotica and sexual medicine, were dropped from sales rankings and search results.

This has been ascribed to an error with a new cataloguing system, but not before it attracted the ire of writers such as Gore Vidal, who asked, “Why don’t they just burn the books?”

Not great publicity for the exemplar of the long tail business. 

However, having painted itself as the enemy of free speech, it fared rather better on privacy with its public opt-out from advertising technology Phorm. Amazon is the first major website to respond to calls from privacy campaigners to stop the technology scanning its users’ behaviour.

Ethically minded customers will be left confused, though less ethically minded consumers may just be relieved Amazon is shutting out the data snoops. After all, this is the same Amazon which has sold T-shirts emblazoned with “I Love Heinrich Himmler” and “I Love Hitler”.
It seems that when you have a long tail, it is liable to get dirty. 

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