December 2, 2004 4:50 PM PST

Target is cool with rock 'n' roll, but not sex and drugs

When Target struck a deal for Amazon.com to help run its Internet store, search results that turned up listings for books and videos about sex and drugs weren't exactly what the retailing giant had in mind.

In recent weeks, the Internet has been abuzz about an alleged hack into Target's Web operations, where its online store site appeared to offer items for sale that one wouldn't normally expect to find at the mainstream retailer. When customers typed "marijuana" into the search feature of Target's Web site, books and CDs about marijuana appeared that Target wouldn't want to sell. Worse--at least for Target--books, CDs and DVDs related to sex and drugs appeared when other words were entered.

"When a guest logs on to Target.com and searches for a particular word, that search includes Amazon.com's millions of books, music and (movie) titles," Target said in its statement. "Target.com is currently working with Amazon.com to suppress certain titles from the Amazon.com catalog from appearing on the Target.com web site."

Amazon confirmed that the search results were retrieved from products it sells on its own site or through affiliates that run small businesses on the Web.

Target blamed the gaffe on a process the two companies use to coordinate their e-commerce networks, not a computer hack. An Amazon spokeswoman said the problem wasn't due to a mistake on Amazon's part and referred further questions to Target.

Under the companies' agreement, established in 2001 and extended through 2008, Amazon manages e-commerce for the retail chain. Amazon handles order fulfillment and customer service for Target.com, as well as the retailer's other online properties, MarshallFields.com and Mervyns.com.

Target said that while it will continue to use Amazon's technology to power its Web site and provide entertainment items partly supplied from Amazon's own product listings, it will work to disable consumers' ability to access the controversial search results.

6 comments

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Target sucks
To hell with Target. I don't need these puritans dictating to me what I can search for.
Posted by nonaste (30 comments )
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Slow down there partner
It's a store and it can choose not to sell some things. Forcing it to carry everything - now that would be scary.

If you want the entire range of Amazon products search on Amazon otherwise you get what Target sells. Why is this so tragic?

By the way, a little puritan ethic never hurt anyone.
Posted by (4 comments )
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Walmart sucks, Target just sips a little
Walmart is the most disasterous economic entity that small
towm Amarica has ever encountered. Walmart moves in, the core
businesses in town die. Residents start working for half their
previous wages. Walmart shows big profits. That sucks.

So maybe that's just the modern world. Family operated
businesses fall before the corporate giants. So why should
anyone give a damn about the uneconomic family farm?

That sucks too.

Target just is exercising their rights to sell what they want. They
aren't telling anyone what to buy.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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Target? Puritan?
Calling Target "puritan" is downright foolish. Wal-Mart is the chain selling censored CD's, refusing to sell various magazines, and various other items that might not fit their conservative view...
Posted by BrandonR (24 comments )
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I can search
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/tonearm_kuzma.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/tonearm_kuzma.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
Link Flag
Sources?
Simply saying the internet is abuzz is not the way to do it. You should credit the blogs who broke the story. Were this story reported by the Times, I assure you the Times and the reporter's name would be in your article. Just pointing that out.
Posted by (1 comment )
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