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  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Big Brother Amazon

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by GingerCoffee, Jul 2, 2015.

    I'm starting this in the debate room because I don't know where the discussion will go, and also so people who think the debate room is only good for bickering can see debate does not specifically mean argue.

    This mind boggling FaceBook post was recently shared on my critique group's FB page:
    Amazon… A virtual marketplace, or Big Brother?
    The description of the incident continues and is worth reading in full. What's especially disturbing is this part:
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    And imagine the US government is fighting to get all the information from Google and Amazon.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Big Brother is more a term I'd limit to the government. Amazon is a private company. They can't compel you to do business with them.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Do you have an alternative label for pervasive spying on individuals? I don't have to be on the Internet either but it's pretty disturbing to know how extensive spying is becoming even if marketing rather than political control is the goal. And the more big money and lobbying are affecting the government, do you really think politicians aren't buying the data on people from these marketers?
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is utterly stupid. Knowing someone isn't a valid reason to censor reviews. Hopefully enough people complain about this and force Amazon to change its policy.
     
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  6. Osmio
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    Osmio New Member

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    Honestly, I don't like this policy in the slightest. Part of me is upset by the privacy violation, but the other part of me is upset by the fact that they assume that all friends and family of authors are kiss-ups.

    Whenever I review something, I don't even bother to consider who wrote it. If someone I know wrote a story and wanted it reviewed on Amazon or some other site, I would decline to do so until I could read it and judge for myself. Rubbish is rubbish, whether or not you know the author, and Amazon needs to lift this restriction.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a bit torn on this one. As a reader, I would like to be able to rely on Amazon reviews. But numerous times I have read well-reviewed books that were absolute CRAP (I don't want to shit on self-publishing, but, yes, these were self-published books, because no publishing house would EVER let these monstrosities past their editors) and I've gone back to investigate the reviews and I've found that they were either from other self-published authors clearly trading favourable reviews, or from people who've only ever reviewed one thing on Amazon (which I assume means they were friends or family of the author and did the review as a favour).

    It's annoying. And as an author who would never dream of asking a friend or family member to publicly review my books (since then they'd be pressured to maybe inflate their opinion), it's annoying to see other authors with crap books and much higher Amazon rankings.

    That said... this whole thing kind of creeps me out. What exactly is Amazon looking at to determine who's 'friends' with whom? If they're looking around outside their own websites, it definitely feels like spying.

    Even if they're limiting themselves to their own world - I just had a reader lend me an e-book from her Kindle library - I posted on my author Facebook that I was looking for a new book to read, she suggested a whole series and offered to lend me one of them so I could check it out, I agreed. If that reader now tries to review my book, is she going to be ineligible b/c we're 'friends'? If I as an author lend a Kindle book to a reviewer, does that make US friends?

    I appreciate what seems to be the sentiment behind Amazon's actions, but I question their methodology. If they would make that clearer, I might be okay with the whole thing.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    They're trying to address a real problem, but not in the best way. Seems like they could come up with a better method.

    Cries of privacy violations seem a bit much, though. Even if they are getting info off your Facebook or Twitter feed, it is information you are posting publicly to Twitter of Facebook. Hard to see how you have a privacy interest in information you post to the entire world.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the paranoia strikes because they apparently won't SAY how they're getting the information.

    So, you're right, they could just be looking at publicly available info. But it feels nefarious b/c of the secrecy.

    I've seen the original post pretty much everywhere over the past few days, so hopefully it's getting enough attention to make Amazon give a public explanation. And then when they're done that, maybe they can explain their sales rank algorithm!
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I did look int0 this further, and I have come to see two sides to the issue.

    I'm seriously annoyed that they are Net spying, connecting the dots between 6 degrees of separation or whatever they are doing. We don't need more spying in the name of 'it's just marketers, not the government'.

    But this other issue, buying reviews, that seems like a very legitimate avenue for the Amazon police to be poking around.

    Amazon files first-ever suit over fake product reviews, alleging sites sold fraudulent praise

    Maybe direct family member reviews should at least be disclosed:
    Sorry, but Amazon Probably Won’t Let Nana Review Your E-Novel Anymore

    But the author in the OP link was a fellow writer who insisted he gives honest reviews. Now one has to wonder if book reviewers will be squeezed out if they are not recognized commercial book reviewers. And what about that legit reviewer publication we've discussed before, selling reviews but insisting they will be honest, it's just that the author can screen the review before deciding to use it? That seems like a bit of a grey area.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Unless it's info from Amazon or its affiliates, I would think it would have to be public info. If they're getting non-public info that you've provided to them or their affiliate...well, you have provided it. Sounds like they just have an algorithm that matches up info available to them. Not exactly an elegant solution.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The data miners are scanning your email content. That's not exactly publicly available info. And you can't get a credit card without that 3 pages of 'what we do with your info' fine print, not to mention you pay a premium to opt out of using your grocery record of everything you buy card. Those aren't exactly choices people make about disclosing information.

    Where's the tipping point going to be when enough is enough?
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You don't think Amazon is acquiring all the data that other companies collect and sell?

    Think they don't buy from the data brokers?
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Information that is for sale is publicly available. That's how come they can buy it.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It does feel a bit... ungrateful, maybe? I mean, citizens leaving reviews on Amazon is a public service, but also an Amazon-service. They wouldn't make the 'leave a review' function available if they didn't think it was good for their business.

    So an innocent citizen does something that's good for Amazon, and in return Amazon data-mines them, judges them, and accepts or rejects their favour? It doesn't feel right.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So you consider your email content public?
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If I use Gmail, and have agreed that they can automatically mine data from it and resell it (I don't know if Google resells), then I've made that data public.

    It's simple. There are a few laws that protect certain information. Outside of that, companies you do business with have privacy policies. Unless a company violates the law or their own privacy policy, you're saying they can use the data you provide. This may include selling the data. Check the privacy policies. If you've agreed to that kind of policy, then yeah you've made the information public.

    For these companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter etc that provide free Internet services, YOU are the product. You don't have to use their service or agree to their terms, but if you do you are making certain data public and salable within the terms of that company's policies.
     
  18. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Big Brother could apply to this. Companies are doing so much to increase sales with ad neuroscience, questionnaires to go with member cards, etc. The de facto power of corporations over society is more of a government than the state.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Don't buy from Amazon. They have too much market power as it is :)
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Care to address my question?

    Where's the tipping point going to be when enough is enough?
     
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know, I know. But they're so damn convenient!
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I answered your question. The tipping point is wherever people decide it is. Don't like what a company does with your data? Don't use their service. Enough people stop using a service because of privacy policies, the policies will change.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    They are. I buy mostly from B&N, and I got rid of my Kindle tablet for a regular Android tablet so I could have the B&N and Kobo apps. They're easy enough if you're looking for books. Of course, Amazon has so much more than books it is an easy single destination.
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think we've reached the 'agree to disagree' point. There's a significant power imbalance involved in this exchange you claim is optional.
     
  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure B&N works in Canada, and the last time I used Kobo their interface was incredibly frustrating. But that was several years ago, so maybe they've gotten better! Do you still have to connect your device to a laptop in order to download books?
     
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