Why was the Amazon Mechanical Turk blog post deleted?

case Expensify Customer Posts: 4 Expensify Newcomer

In a number of places on the internet, I see referenced the blog post following the Amazon Mechanical Turk debacle from last year, and yet when I go to the link, the page cannot be found. Why?

I understand the idea that the information shared in receipts is either a) uninformative, or b) known by other potentially more shady parties already, but it seems to me important for a company to own the things which users disagreed with and to learn from it and show their users how they have grown.

Best Answer

  • Sheena Trepanier
    Sheena Trepanier Expensify Team, Approved! Accountant, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 1,362 Expensify Team
    Answer ✓

    Hi @case - I have replied on your other comment regarding why to use SmartScan still, but wanted to just share a brief summary of what was said there.

    We found that even though we were only doing testing for a feature that would be used by the largest 1% of customers, people were uncomfortable in general with us working with Mechanical Turk. Since we were no longer going to move forward with the project, we removed the blog post as well as it was causing renewed concern that we were still using Mechanical Turk for SmartScan.


  • case
    case Expensify Customer Posts: 4 Expensify Newcomer

    Hi @Sheena Trepanier, thank you for your answers. I understand that the story was likely blown out of proportion, made into something it perhaps was not, etc. I can understand the idea that taking the blog post down is part of turning away from that moment and moving in a different direction. I know my questioning has thus far not been very friendly or open-minded. I do think Expensify got far more negative coverage than realistic analysis, not mentioning all of the things which Expensify got right for ten years, and I am sorry it went that way. Thus I think it is fair that Expensify does whatever it deems helpful in trying to move past that incident.

    I would like to pose a different perspective though.

    I think one interpretation is that Expensify contemplated exposing receipts to a 3rd party, and then a segment of the public viewed that third party as potentially dangerous. I understand that this was a small experiment and that the decision was made to not move forward, but it leaves questions unanswered, such as: What is the level of exposure our receipts could get if we enable SmartScan? Is there some place where Expensify spells out why SmartScan can be trusted, describes the very limited group of people who may look at receipts and why those people can be trusted as well?

    Your response on the other post addresses many parts of this, but I think anyone who read the stories may feel similar to how I originally felt. To me, it feels like deleting the blog post is the wrong approach as well; it leaves open the idea that Expensify may try to do something similar again someday, and a number of places on the internet still link to it, so it feels alarming to clikc through and see the link is now broken. I would very much prefer to see the blog post and to also see a commitment much like your response on the other post, about how Expensify is committed to security and will never try to take short-cuts which could compromise that security.

    I apologize for my tone previously, it was not professional nor helpful, but I do hope to see Expensify take advantage of this past issue rather than deleting things.