Thursday, September 28, 2023

You Are The Product, Example #3732

People are beginning to notice that Amazon's getting more frustrating to use.
"Lately, though, shopping on Amazon has become an exercise in frustration. My purple-wig search started with sponsored listings from unfamiliar brands with just a small disclosure noting that they’re advertisements. The organic results eventually do show up, offering hairpieces from brands with names such as DAOTS, MorvallyDirect, and eNilecor. Scroll only a little deeper into the sea of indigo fibers, and the sponsored items resume.

What happened to Amazon? The company no longer excels at the thing it’s supposed to be best at: shopping. Its unparalleled convenience and cost helped turn it into an e-commerce juggernaut, one that now faces an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission over alleged anticompetitive practices. Now around every corner lies a brand you’ve never heard of, selling a product you’re not sure about. Good deals on name brands are harder to come by. Amazon’s dominance has also transformed it into a different kind of company. Along the way, the famously customer-obsessed company has lost track of what its customers actually want.

Start with the ads. At the top of the results for purple wig, I hit a block of stand-alone results, a sponsored storefront from an unfamiliar brand named BERON. That’s followed by four paid results from unidentified companies, followed by, finally, organic results. Even then, those recommendations are based in part on customer reviews, which vendors have notoriously gamed.
This is yet another example of the process Cory Doctorow termed "enshittification":
"Here is how platforms die: First, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a "two-sided market," where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.
Amazon is practically Patient Zero of enshittification, or maybe Google is. The economics of the internet practically demand it.

Facebook is another classic example. 

I see people bitching about their FB posts with outgoing links getting buried by the algorithm, and thinking it's some conspiracy because they're links to gun stuff or conservative political sites, when the fact of the matter is that Facebook flattens all outgoing links. 

Zuck ain't in the business of sending traffic to non-Meta websites, so unless you have a mess of organic readership on the Bookface, nobody's gonna notice your outgoing links regardless of whether they're going to sites about firearms or flower arranging, because they're going to pop up in hardly anybody's feed.