Rants In Our Pants

Amazon Suffers Total Failure of Irony Detection System

Dystopian totalitarian Kindle software deletes Orwell’s novels about dystopian totalitarian states. Amazon says, “oops.”

By (@tynanwrites)

July 18, 2009

1984 deletedAmazon’s much vaunted irony-detection system suffered a total meltdown yesterday, as its DRM software automatically deleted two literary classics from hundreds of Kindle devices.

The books removed? George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. Both books revolve around totalitarian regimes who rewrite and/or erase the past in order to control the future.

Apparently the publisher who’d sold the books for 99 cents apiece did not have rights to do so, even though both works were published more than 60 years ago. So Amazon just ripped them out of users’ digital libraries.

“If you wanted the world to think you’re a totalitarian asshole, you couldn’t have picked a better way to do it,” said anyone who was paying attention. “Then again, this is Amazon. You’d think we’d be used to it by now.”

Amazon said it would refund the money to buyers of the two books and would no longer delete books in this manner. It did, however, reserve the right to engage in Newspeak and operate networks of child spies for detecting thought crime.

The company said it hoped to get its irony detectors back online after the weekend.

“On the bright side, at least Orwell wasn’t gay,” an Amazon spokesperson did not actually say. “Imagine the shit we would have caught for that.”

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