It’s a curious dilemma
Amazon is one of the largest retailers in the world, boasting one of the most sophisticated algorithms to ensure (or at least, strongly suggest) its customers get exactly what they want. With millions of transactions, there will always be a risk of bizarre and inappropriate items sneaking their way through. And, wow, is this one a doozy.
Shoppers on Amazon UK encountered a whole new level of inappropriate when an item described as “Holocaust wound” (found in the Horror Shop section) was advertised on the site. According to a recent report by BuzzFeed, the piece was described as:
“Holocaust wound. Derbe burn for half his face as latex application. 3D Burn! Acid attack, Krasser sunburn or wound a burnt offering to be burst blisters over half his face.”
The item was removed by Amazon UK after a tweet by the Auschwitz Memorial Museum.
Worth noting that back in the States, Amazon users have come across other shockingly insensitive items in the marketplace recently.
This past May, a Facebook user posted this eye-poppingly racist description of an “ethnic” skirt:
A different company sells a similar looking skirt, advertising it more accurately as: “Unique Vintage 1950s High Waist Watermelon Skirt.”
Of course, you can’t always fault human error for inappropriate mistakes. Amazon’s very own algorithm can conjure up some inadvertently controversial connections.
Check out the recommendations for “frequently bought together” when an Amazon UK buyer clicks on “Rose In Glass Tube.”
In case it’s hard to read, those who purchased a pipe-like glass tube just happened to pair it with two key ingredients (copper scrubbers and a pack of lighters) commonly used for illicit drug use like smoking crack.
But again, goofs happen. But it seems Amazon’s greatest error in judgment comes after the items are taken down. Instead of, say, a note about what the item was, how it was flagged inappropriate, and (most important) why it was found inappropriate, Amazon users who track down the old link get a cute puppy:
Nothing against adorable dogs, but using a bad moment to spark a conversation might be a better idea.
Correction: An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated the two skirt images were posted and sold through the same vendor, with the offending language “recast.” This is incorrect. The items are advertised through two separate Amazon vendors. The piece has been updated to reflect that change.