Amazon Goes on Pedophilia Scrub, Removes Videos of Nude Young Girls

Last Updated Nov 12, 2010 6:22 PM EST

Amazon received a rash of consumer grief for carrying a pro-pedophilia book for the Kindle and then defending it against calls for removal. Then Amazon took that book down but left in place a similar title that it had been selling for years.

Now it looks as though Amazon has been doing some spring cleaning by tracking down and scrubbing its site of videos featuring nude and apparently underage girls as well as extended videos of young boys dancing and wrestling. Although none of this stuff appeared to meet the federal definition of child pornography, as there didn't seem to be "sexually explicit conduct," the images associated with many of the products were, to use a non-technical term, unbelievably creepy.

There is a management lesson to be had from all this. One of the powers of online commerce is automation. Bring in products, register them, and sell them, letting vendors and customers do the data entry work. But automation can come at the price of losing oversight and control that eventually can cause major embarrassment.

I came across some of these videos through a link left in a reader's comment on my post about the second book. It currently shows a user-generated listing for 9 videos plus the Riegel book I mentioned. (Warning: many will consider the material at the link disturbing, and it's not particularly safe for work, either.) To verify that the these items were actually on Amazon's site, I independently searched Amazon and located each product. However, when checking a second time an hour later, many had titles, descriptions, and links taken out, although the thumbnail images would appear when doing a search (i.e., item #34 below):


Some listings have cached page images on Google (GOOG), although here is one screen capture of a video called Dance Party that I managed to take before Amazon removed the product:


This video had an image that could be enlarged, and many of the people in it certainly looked like they were under 18.

A number of the products were described as "naturist" videos. To give an example, one, titled FKK Yoga Class was listed as in stock and sold by Amazon on November 8. Here's the description:

Two dozen females from the local naturist chapter rendezvous for an afternoon to learn the basics of yoga. The girls, teens and ladies follow the cues of the two young business owners who are not nudists but went with the flow and stripped bare naked. Meditation, stretching, deep breathing and physical balancing were practiced.
Another title, FKK Workout, had the following description:
Over 50 pre-teen girls, teens, college girls and adult ladies turned out for a 'girls-only' day at the gym. European nudists all. A rollicking good time trying out all the equipment; machines and free weights. All the latest equipment you'll find in the States was there to be worked on. Lots of enthusiasm. A snack bar retreat provided some down time before heading to an aerobics class. Wonderful camaraderie.
Some titles, like Little Warriors 2, had no explicit nudity and are still listed on the site (although "currently unavailable"), but the descriptions are, to say the least, curious:
They're back! Yes, Baikal Films' young superstars of wrestling, Little Warriors, are once again back and ready to rumble. After a terrific trip to summer camp for some much deserved fun, our boys are in the gym and training hard. Super slammin' moves are practiced to perfection and young muscles are strained to the max, all in anticipation of the season's first big match. This competition is an impressive one, opening with a handsome parade of young athletes circling the hall and carrying their team banners proudly. But don't let these smiling, doe-eyed, rosey-! cheeked boys fool you, they're some of Siberia's fiercest young grapplers. Each one is pumped and ready to deliver a power-packed performance of flips, slams, and smack downs we call LITTLE WARRIORS 2!
Then there's Antonia European Junior Idol, a $30, 60-minute video of a photo shoot of a 13-year-old in a skimpy bikini. And unlike a Playboy Magazine (whose models are certainly of majority age), a buyer can't even claim to get it for the articles.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.