One of the big online stories over the past couple of days is Amazon.com‘s weeklong glitch that “suddenly revealed the identities of thousands of people who had anonymously posted book reviews” (New York Times article here). Turns out a lot of what was revealed was that authors were anonymously writing glowing reviews of their own books, and getting family and friends to do so too—and conversely, anonymously panning rivals’ books. This “glitch” exposed a bigger issue:
…many people say Amazon’s pages have turned into what one writer called “a rhetorical war,” where friends and family members are regularly corralled to write glowing reviews and each negative one is scrutinized for the digital fingerprints of known enemies.
Amazon called this “an unfortunate error.” Yeah, right.
Consider: these “anonymous” reviewers are not anonymous at all, Amazon clearly tracks who they really are and can, at any given time, follow exactly who is saying what about any book. Confronted with the questionable antics of these reviewers and the growing “rhetorical war,” I know what I would do to try to put a stop to it. (Here’s a hint: it’s basically the same thing that happened to Amazon.)