The Motherboard Guide to Amazon Prime Day

Today is Amazon Prime Day, a 36-hour shopping event invented to celebrate Jeff Bezos’s online marketplace dominance.

It’s hard to remember a time before this invented holiday “Prime Day,” but it started just three years ago in 2015, on Amazon’s 20th birthday. The following year, the company saw a 60 percent jump in orders placed on Prime Day.

As comrades around the world go on strike to protest Amazon’s workplace conditions, let’s take a look at the best Prime Day deals:

Best Deals on Being an All-Consuming Mega Retailer That Consumes Small Businesses

Amazon Is Trying to Control the Underlying Infrastructure of Our Economy
Jeff Bezos’s big bet is that he can make buying from Amazon so effortless that we won’t notice the company’s creeping grip on commerce and its underlying infrastructure, and that we won’t notice what that dominance costs us. Amazon has unprecedented power to steer our choices. Ask Alexa to send you batteries and you won’t get the option of Duracell or Energizer; you’ll be shipped Amazon-branded batteries. Browse the Kindle bestseller list and you’ll see many books published by Amazon. Peruse the “customers also bought” carousel and Amazon’s algorithms will favor displaying its own products, even when they’re not the best match.

Amazon Is Burying Sexy Books, Sending Erotic Novel Authors to the ‘No-Rank Dungeon’
“There’s no way for an indie author to make a living without Amazon, so whatever nonsense they decide they’re pulling this month is just one other thing we’ve got to put up with,” Trout said. “And that sucks, but they’re a private business and they get to do what they want, so we can only really complain from a consumer standpoint. It’s not censorship, it’s just a big bullshit hassle, so there’s really no recourse for us.”

Amazon Wants You to Shop at Amazon as Long as You Follow the Rules It Doesn’t Tell You About
In recent years, Amazon’s dominance of the retail industry has resulted in many small and local businesses shutting down all over the country. In its mission to “dominate retail,” Amazon has hollowed out mainstreet, and is increasingly where many Americans do all their shopping. The retail business Amazon has built now exists as a walled ‘obey-to-play’ garden, where people are encouraged to shop for everything, and have it delivered. As such, Amazon has placed itself in a new role as a provider of an entire city’s worth of retail from a single vendor.

Amazon Prime Is a Blessing and a Curse For Remote Towns
After Amazon ended free shipping for Prime customers in some remote parts of Canada in 2015 , many Iqalummiut are worried worried Amazon would cut off their regions from free Prime shipping, too. “It would be very, very bad, I don’t want to say pandemonium, but maybe something akin to that,” David Marineau-Plante told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . […] “Shipping is subsidized by Amazon in order to lock consumers into their ecosystem and to destroy competing retailers,” Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance , said. “They are an extractive force, economically. All of the dollars these communities are spending in Amazon are leaving the local economy completely.”

Best Deals on Building a Creeping Surveillance State

“A total privacy invasion. Immediately, I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again because I can’t trust it.’”
She’d installed Echo devices and smart bulbs in every room in her house, accepting Amazon’s claims that they were not invading her privacy. But today she asked the company to investigate after an Alexa device recorded a private conversation between her and her husband and sent it to a random number in their address book without their permission.

With Echo in Hotel Rooms, Amazon Can Now Track Your Travel Habits
Previously, hotels might have had access to pieces of this data from other vendors and their own phone logs, but not near complete narratives of what happens when a customer occupies a room. […] And that is what Amazon continues to collect—who we are wholly. What we read and watch, what we buy, where we stay, what we do while we stay, how we manage our homes, and with Whole Foods, what we eat.

Hack That Turns Amazon Echo Into a Spying Device Can’t Be Fixed By Software Patch
With the malware installed, Barnes could remotely monitor the Echo’s “ always listening ” microphone, which is constantly paying attention for a “ wake word .” (The most popular of these is “Alexa.”) Barnes took advantage of the same audio file that the device creates to wait for those keywords. “I’m listening to that same file. I’m effectively listening the same way that processor is listening for a keyword.”

“It allows them to connect you to other instances of yourself and to identify your relationship to other people”
Civil liberties experts are worried that these and other expanding uses of speaker recognition imperil the right to privacy. “This creates a new intelligence capability and a new capability for abuse,” explained Timothy Edgar, a former White House adviser to the Director of National Intelligence. “Our voice is traveling across all sorts of communication channels where we’re not there. In an age of mass surveillance, this kind of capability has profound implications for all of our privacy.”

Best Deals on Reducing Human Labor to Algorithmic Profit

Brutal life working in Amazon warehouse
Timed toilet breaks, impossible targets and exhausting, “intolerable” working conditions are frequent complaints. Staff have been paid less than the living wage, and it even emerged drivers had faced fines for “early” deliveries. As experts warn of workers facing an increased risk of mental and physical illness, Amazon repeatedly promised to clean up its act. But a whiteboard in the plant for staff comments suggests it has far to go. There were complaints of filthy toilets and breaks still too short. One asked: “Why are we not allowed to sit when it is quiet and not busy? We are human beings, not slaves and animals.”

Amazon faces fines following the death of a second warehouse worker in as many months
The Associated Press reported that the victim, Phillip Terry of Indianapolis, “was fatally crushed when a forklift’s lift fell on him while he was doing maintenance work on it.” Terry was killed on Sept. 24 at an Amazon facility in the Indianapolis suburb of Plainfield.

Amazon warehouse jobs push workers to physical limit
On an average day, 51-year-old Connie Milby covered more than 10 miles in her tennis shoes, walking and climbing up and down three flights of stairs to retrieve tools, toys and a vast array of other merchandise for Amazon.com shoppers. […] “At my age around here, there are not very many other opportunities to make what we make,” Milby said before beginning her 6:30 a.m. shift last October. “As long as my body holds up, I will keep working. But the way it feels, I don’t know how long that will be.”

The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp
What bothers her most is how expendable her husband seemed to be inside the warehouse system. She believes that had he not died as a second-class temp worker, his family might have been in a better position to sustain the loss. “Just feeling like he wasn’t human, like he was just a piece of paper,” she said. “You know, [they] can dispose of you. It kind of hurt.”

Almost 13,000 join boycott against Amazon.com
Working conditions at Amazon’s Breinigsville shipping hub gained national attention and a public response from the company after a Sept. 18 article in The Morning Call revealed employee complaints about heat in the warehouse complex and rapid production requirements many could not sustain. Amazon hired ambulance crews to park outside the complex on hot summer days in case workers experienced heat-related problems. A local emergency room doctor who treated Amazon workers for heat stress reported an “unsafe environment” to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which inspected and recommended corrective steps.

Amazon workers left out in the cold
Grady, 53, has chronic joint pain and a heart condition he said make him especially sensitive to the cold. After attendance was taken to make sure all employees had evacuated, Grady said, he identified himself to a manager as someone with a disability and asked to be allowed in the building. Some warehouse managers were inside at that time, he said, and he asked to join them. Grady said his request was denied and he was forced to remain outside without a coat for about three hours, which he said left him aching and stiff. Amazon maintains the evacuation lasted approximately one hour and 45 minutes.

Top Reviews from People Who Worked There

“If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot.”

“The company is running a continual performance improvement algorithm on its staff.”

“One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight.”

“That’s when the ulcer started.”

Happy Prime Day!