Every once in a while an epic mistake is made by a company with their clientele. For instance, say you're a member of the GLBT community using LiveJournal as your blog on GLBT issues. And say an anti gay marriage ad pops up on your friends page.
Well it happened
. It was also resolved
so don't think that LJ needs to be smacked around with righteous fury right now.
But it raises some thoughts in the face of the Amazon debacle and other interactions between companies and the GLBT community. How far is too far? Obviously the ad in question is from a smear group perpetrating libel and idiocy about gay marriage activists and even if it was a classy example of an anti gay marriage ad, putting it on a GLBT person's journal is stupid as fuck and a definite violation of her safe space. So yanking that ad was a good call.
Same with the Amazon fiasco
. It was way out of line, taking all the GLBT books off the ratings system, if that's even something they did on purpose. Theories abound that meta trolling* was to blame, or that it's a grand corporate conspiracy to screw over the GLBT community. Others claim it was a glitch. But either way we as a culture abhor censorship. So where should the line be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable?
I don't have any answers myself really. Most of these situations are less than black and white. Sometimes we as a community overreact our asses off. But sometimes we don't hit genuine bigotry hard enough and pay for it later. Alternately, some groups just want to point out that their view on marriage is so and so and the rest are running a propaganda and smear campaign full of lies and hate speech. To be honest, I can't say I'm comfortable with even censoring hate speech in public zones. Certainly in safe spaces, rented areas, places where we have some level of ownership, we have a lot more rights to censor and adjust what comes in. Places like LJ and social sites like facebook can censor certain things for the benefit of their users.
In fact I would say they have a responsibility to honor their users' needs for a safe environment to operate in. If they don't provide it, then the users are well within their rights to raise shit about it or leave the service to go to better fits. LJ lost one customer to an extent when snugglebitch
moved on to Dreamwidth, but they did at least work to fix the problem so others don't get hit too.
I guess the question is, what the fuck were they thinking to begin with? And the answer is, they weren't
In the end, that's why these clusterfucks happen. Companies don't think. They don't plan for the possibility that they could piss off a very upset and generally disenfranchised community, who would have pretty valid reasons to take their business elsewhere. Amazon's system, if struck by metatrolling, was far too easy of a target. It was automated and likely didn't have an effective flood control. It should have at least been heavily monitored for spamming. Even if it was a glitch, that's one hell of a glitch, and something you really should keep an eye out on.
LJ didn't think either. It probably didn't occur to them that there were internet groups buying space trying to sink gay marriage with hate speech and bullshit. So instead of regulating their third party source, or doing their own ads, they let things run automatically and got screwed for it.
Planning is everything. Look into scenarios. Check your demographic. In the end, the only one to blame if your company fucks up and pisses off a huge community is you
. Just the way the world works.
*Note: Meta trolling is a method of trolling wherein you get two groups to attack or troll each other with subtle efforts. You don't visibly troll either one but you are the actual cause of their reactions. Meta trolling can involve dropping a controversial subject into two groups that are already tense, or in the case of Amazon, spam flagging all GLBT, rape survivor and feminist stuff for adult content so that Amazon's automated system removed it all. This would piss off the GLBT community and Amazon wouldn't know what was going on till too late.