If the reactions to the Amy Winehouse and Dominique-Strauss Kahn stories have showed us anything, it's that all standards and decency go out the window in pursuit of extra Internet traffic and money.
Companies, particularly newspapers and online Web sites, have utilized a thing called search engine optimization (SEO) to try to get stories or information more hits and thus more money. Companies employ SEO experts and/or firms to try to get more unique visitors and page views for their content.
The biggest target has been Google-- getting high up on a Google search or Google News cluster could mean thousands upon thousands of hits. So companies juke the keywords and headlines to try to get better placement.
And while Google is still the top SEO target, recently Twitter has seen its own fair share of SEO-type strategies.
In just the last two days, Esquire magazine, Microsoft Corp., and a Missouri congressman had to apologize for inappropriate tweets about either Amy Winehouse and/or Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Instead of thinking about how the death of singer Amy Winehouse might be affecting her family and loved ones, Microsoft took it as a chance to capitalize with increased CD sales. Microsoft, through one of Xbox's PR accounts, encouraged customers to remember Winehouse by purchasing her "Back to Black" CD through Zune.
The reaction was swift and very negative forcing the company to apologize.
Missouri congressman Billy Long took the opportunity to connect a celebrity trending topic to the government's debt talks. He tweeted, "No one could reach #AmyWinehouse before it was too late. Can anyone reach Washington before it's too late? Both addicted -- same fate???"
The first thing I thought of when I heard of Winehouse's death was how similar it was to the debt ceiling talks.
But the worst abuser of them all was Esquire in its desire to get a traffic boost from someone's pain.
On Monday, Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser detailed the alleged attack in a Newsweek article and interview with ABC's Robin Roberts. Esquire editors must have thought that her description of DSK forcing her to perform oral sex was just the perfect lead-in to a sex column.
The magazine's Twitter account tweeted, "How to get a better blowjob than #DSK-we think."
Editors then led into the blowjob story with this paragraph:
"In the latest Newsweek, the maid who was allegedly raped by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn gives a very graphic account of their time together, including some very indecent oral sex. And whomever you believe, that's a tragedy. Because as we've learned over the years from our sex expert, a blowjob need not be degrading or hurtful, for either party."
Really? The tragedy is the blowjob?
But Esquire didn't stop with just the DSK story, no; it also had to try to connect Amy Winehouse with one of its stories.
The result was a story about Amy Winehouse's ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil's fashionable style. Again, clearly the best way to handle someone's death is to use it to hype up a story on her ex's good fashion sense.
It'd truly be fascinating to be in the conference room when discussions were had about how to react to the Winehouse and DSK stories.
Clearly the motive was to try to grab the traffic, but why must a reputable magazine like Esquire do such a thing?
Why must a company rolling in dough like Microsoft think it wise to gain a few extra dollars at the cost of decency?
It's all in the name of traffic.