Amazon and Wikileaks – another #amazonfail or not?

There was an outpouring of indignation this week, calls for a boycott of Amazon and the resurrection of the #amazonfail hashtag on Twitter (first seen prominently when Amazon reached into people’s Kindles and remote wiped their copies of 1984) immediately following Amazon’s eviction of Wikileaks from their cloud hosting service.

In short – Wikileaks moved their site onto Amazon’s cloud because their existing hosting provider couldn’t handle the Denial of Service attacks their servers were coming under since Wikileaks began releasing the diplomatic cables it had acquired. That Amazon’s cloud servers are located primarily in the U.S. ought to have given Wikileaks pause for thought.

Amongst the rest of the week’s Wikileaks stories, it certainly looks like Amazon are part of a conspiracy against the site, comprising a US Senator and numerous national governments, as well as the DNS provider for the domain – that now having gone offline and Wikileaks resorting to a .ch (Switzerland) version of their domain name. Throw in Wikileaks’ founder being pursued on sexual assault charges by Interpol and it all adds up to an establishment conspiracy.

Yet taken on it’s own the Amazon story goes something like this:

Wikileaks signed up for AWS, accepted the terms of service, put their site onto Amazon’s ‘cloud’ and assumed everything would be fine. With the massive media exposure, Amazon’s admins must have noticed something big (bringing massive DDoS attacks with them sticks out somewhat), and given the content being hosted on Wikileaks, it was a clear violation of the ToS. Specifically the part about having permission to publish the content of anything that you host with them and that content hosted shouldn’t cause anyone to suffer physical harm.

Basically a service provider enforcing the terms of service and protecting themselves (and their other customers) isn’t such big news.

Whatever the knee-jerk reactions we’re seeing on blogs and on social networks, Amazon’s duty primarily is to their existing customers (on their cloud platform) and to their shareholders. Making a stand for ‘free speech’ by continuing to host Wikileaks would not serve either of those parties.

All in all, despite the wider implications of the Wikileaks case, Amazon have done nothing wrong nor could they have handled things much differently. Amazon’s biggest mistake in their handling of the whole situation was that the first statement about their decision to stop hosting Wikileaks was made by Senator Joe Lieberman, rather than a spokesman for the company. By failing to take control of the message and explain their decision in their own words, they allowed the message to be put out by an opponent of Wikileaks, this weakening their position.

Now that Paypal have stopped processing donations for Wikileaks, maybe the ire of online reactionaries will move on to the world’s largest single online payment provider.

Missing the point about Pepsi’s Before you Score App?

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Lots of vitriol being poured out about Pepsico’s AMP UP Before You Score branded app (see Twitter search results to the left) and this Mashable piece.

Most of the opinion (most of which is just people retweeting) is overwhelmingly negative, but then how many people of these people have actually tried it out?

I did, and this app has its tongue placed very firmly in its cheek. Would a branded app supporting a fairly bland energy drink have got this much coverage or attention if it didn’t pose as misogynistic?

Based on the branding of the product it’s pretty obviously male-targeted anyway . Maybe Pepsi should have been less obvious about their involvement (PepsiCo stated as the developer and copyright holder on the App Store page [screengrab]) but then that would have come out at some point anyway – their name is on the cans.

The criticism on Twitter, using the #pepsifail hashtag, in the reviews on the iTunes Store and in other places amounts to ‘Pepsi don’t want women to buy from them’. Some are calling it a fiasco. Just like Motrin moms and countless other ‘storm in a social teacup’ incidents, this will blow itself out before the end of the week. People (the mass market/general public) will be unaffected and life will go on as normal, but a lot more people will know what AMP is. Not quite the fail that the voices of protest wish it would be. More to the point the outrage is going to nothing more than fuel the popularity/notoriety of the effort.

Update: Mashable post on Pepsi’s apology for ‘bad taste’

Disgusting Domino’s People

A pizza, yesterday, sort of.On April 13th the now infamous video got put up on Youtube by the people responsible, it was then removed and re-posted by another user who says that they “re-uploaded because these people deserve to be fired”.

It spread like wildfire through social media like Twitter and other channels and hit the mainstream media shortly after.

Yesterday (15th April) Domino’s put out this statement by the president of the company. Interestingly there is no press release on their website, or link from the homepage, just a response in the same channel it appeared in. The general feeling in the social media space is that whilst it’s good they’ve responded, the response comes across poorly. I think Domino’s choice thus far to keep the response in the social media space is a wise one – not alerting more people than necessary to the situation makes sense in damage limitation terms but the responses in that channel raise the question of how they could have handled it better.

Option 1 Do nothing
Social media commentators have previously said of incidents like the Motrin Moms case, “they should have ignored it” and that it was a “tempest in a teapot”. Back then I think that might have been the right move, the Twittersphere was much smaller then than it is now. I don’t think doing nothing would work in this case – leaving it to get bigger and bigger with no response than apprehending the people responsible.

Option 2 Issue a statement
Domino’s, so far at least, have taken this route – make a statement condemning the actions of those involved, talking up how hard the company works and how sickened the president is by their actions.

Option 3 Make a more meaningful commitment – come out fighting
People are talking about you and to quote Wilde ‘There’s only one thing worse than being talked about’. Seize the opportunity to focus people on what you do right, not what you do wrong. Show video of all the parts of your organisation, working like clockwork, to bring customers reasonably priced freshly prepared and cooked food whilst explaining the situation and what you’re doing to rectify it.

If you’re going to take option 2, learn your lines and look at the camera not off to the side. If you as president of the company can’t manage that, get someone else to do so for you.

Far better to make the sentiments of the statement from the president felt not in empty, insincerely delivered words, but with words AND pictures.

I understand time is of the essence here and a statement of some kind had to be forthcoming pretty quickly but instead of an amateur looking to camera piece in corporate HQ, even some roughly edited footage of things going right, with a voiceover would carry more weight in my opinion. Better still, use that to trail a whole series of videos that you will be putting up to show in detail “How Stuff Works” or “A Day in the life of Domino’s”. I don’t know what the franchisee of the branch in question is doing about it, except dealing with a whole world of hurt, but making a gesture to everyone who patronised that branch in 2009 couldn’t harm his position – come into the store and inspect it for yourself, leave with whatever your last order was for, for free. It’s that or hope your customers don’t watch tv or read newspapers.

Some are vilifying Domino’s for allowing people like this to work for them, just think how it would come across if they changed their hiring policies to exclude anyone with a slightly shady past? There’d be yet more people protesting against Domino’s “refusing to provide jobs to help people get back on their feet”.

No company can predict everything that could go wrong within their organisation but just as companies have ‘Disaster Recovery’ plans for infrastructure related catastrophes it now seems they will need to make public relations disaster recovery plans as well.

Photo credit: Adam Kuban, creative commons, via Flickr