The continued rise of automated content that is shovelled out without any human eye ever casting a look at it before it is published has its down sides as Yahoo is finding out.
It along with other sites are bleeding the line between content and commerce by allowing visitors to buy clothes featured in stories.
Usually it is the clothes of celebrities, but clearly it is trying to expand further to news as well and it has come a cropper with this tragic story from Afghanistan.
Law professor Rebecca Tushnet noticed that Yahoo was offering readers the chance to get ”get the look” of of a man sitting on his haunches in the wake of the Spozhmai Hotel on the shores of Lake Qargha after it was stormed by Taliban terrorists.
The ensuring siege resulted in 13 people were killed and hundreds taken hostage before Afghan security forces put an end to the insurgent attack. The full text next to the pic reads:
Text reads: “A man holding spent .50 calibre shells looks towards the Spozhmai Hotel on Qargha lake on the outskirts of Kabul on June 22, following an attack by Taliban militants. A carefree birthday party and night out to celebrate the start of the Afghan weekend were reduced to destruction and butchery when Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel, opening fire indiscriminately on wealthy revellers.” Perhaps his outfit, which can apparently be replicated with an Express scarf, Prada shoes, and Helmut Lang pants, is of some consolation to him.
I’m sure there might be some “news content” that can be sold in this way, but without some checks this kind of thing will happen more and more as editorial teams are stripped back and technology takes over.