Slog has done a fine job looking at all angles of TheGreatGlitch, but I think it's still worth asking... what if Twitter didn't shame Amazon into action?
As many have said, the problem wasn't treated like a glitch by Amazon's staff in the first place. But let's not forget, the initial report was filed two days after Probst first noticed the problem. These de-rankings sat live on Amazon's listings for days, and a guy with a direct publishing contact at Amazon couldn't get someone to take action or send a realistic, rational response. This initial result is in line with the statement Mike Daisey made to the PI yesterday:
While embarrassing to the public, it will fade quickly as the changes get reverted. Amazon is no longer the company it once was: it's just an online Wal-Mart. Like any behemoth, there's little accountability inside the bubble.
That expectation of a fading embarrassment does apply to the public. This whole escapade illuminates the issue that Amazon is a money-first corporation that only acts when the bottom line is threatened. Without #amazonfail, what would've happened? You'd see a few complaints climb to the top of Digg/Reddit for all the nerds to see. Maybe Fark would throw up a goofy headline about it. And, of course, there'd be the inevitable online petition.
Those kinds of complaints get sucked into a vacuum of here-today-gone-tomorrow Internet nerd chatter. Yawn.
But Twitter's the closest thing consumers and average users have gotten to creating an online riot in a long time. Yesterday, after typing #amazonfail into the search, packed lists filled the screen with posts all seconds apart, and screen refreshes kept 'em coming. This was before any mainstream media had jumped on the story. no less. Twitter's combination of brevity, semi-anonymity, and topic tracking is ripe for social tidal waves like yesterday's.
That's the only reason Amazon reacted—sorry to ruin your hopes of a newly evangelized Amazon, Loveschild, but Amazon cares about your family-friendly hopes as much as they got sad for the gay nation. In case that wasn't obvious, let's remember that their proper, human response was run through the corporate PR wringer for a full day before finally landing. The question, though, isn't why Amazon took so long to identify and fix what they called a "glitch." The question is this: Can Twitter do it again?
I just finished watching Milk and can't help but think about the angry, controlled riot—or the illusion of one—as an effective show of strength and resolve. What if the months before Prop 8 were filled with #isupportALLmarriage? What if people use Twitter to push consumer rights issues like #endlengthycellphonecontracts or #0gTransFatisalie? Would such attempts wind up inevitably sucked into the Internet-overhype vacuum? Or can the next overwhelming, organic call to arms supersede Twitter's yet-to-burst bubble—and finally scare Internet-fearing, power-wielding jerks into putting down the form letter and acting like fucking human beings again?