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December 01, 2010

Amazon + WikiLeaks = One Seriously Bad Public Relations Problem

Not sure as to the freshness date of this as these things move quickly, but here was the situation as of last night and as reported by Seattle station KIRO:

”ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- An Issaquah grandmother of two American soldiers said she's outraged at Amazon for providing web hosting to WikiLeaks, the organization that has leaked thousands of classified government documents. Nadine Gulit had two grandsons deploy to Iraq and founded Operation Support Our Troops. She isn't very diplomatic about Amazon helping out WikiLeaks. "That shocked me and it surprises me that Amazon went that route," she said.”

And how did this come to be?

”WikiLeaks came under fresh criticism recently for publicizing 250,000 confidential diplomatic cables that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said endangered innocent lives. Hours before WikiLeaks published those cables, it was hacked and moved its home page to Amazon's servers for what some believe were security reasons.”

Emphasis mine. Let that last sentence sink in for a moment. I’m told that irony has a somewhat sweet, yet salty, flavor. Similar to chocolate-covered pretzels maybe?

An interesting, and probably accurate point (at least to some degree) is made in the article:

University of Washington communications professor Phil Howard wasn't surprised by WikiLeaks' move and concurred that it was likely made to avoid further hacks. He said he thought Amazon's participation might reflect an internet ideology. "This case is evidence that Amazon still has that kind of libertarian information-must-be-free ethic," he said.

Perhaps, but a public relations crisis manager quoted later in the article notes that it seems bizarre for Amazon to do something like this, particularly during the holiday shopping season. As for Grandma Gulit? Let’s just say she’s a little pissed off about the whole affair.

No statement yet from Amazon, at least that I can find.

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posted by Genghis at 08:49 AM

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