April 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

That’s the title reference to the hot topic on Twitter and the interwebs this week.  It’s about the “glitch” on Amazon that has de-ranked over 57,000 books because of their ‘adult content’. These books also disappeared from Amazon searches.

What constitutes adult content and who makes the decision is still unexplained. A disproportionate number of books affected fall in the LGBT category, but also books which are considered literary classics which have sexual content (don’t most modern classics?). However – and this is the red flag – books that are explicitly homophobic and openly pornographic missed the cut.  I’m also suspicious that Kindle books somehow escaped the cull.

So obviously, either someone made a blanket censorship decision about books based on their metadata/tags or Amazon executed a badly calculated test of a new beta search system, to put it kindly (I shan’t scream homophobia and right-wing conspiracies yet, although I do think a commercial conspiracy is the motivation).

I don’t believe that a troll cracked Amazon’s system and inserted the code because that would be just as bad for Amazon to be seen as (1) easily hacked, and (2) susceptible to fake reviews affecting rankings, and (3) ineffective in repairing the damage.  At the very least, Amazon needs to issue a proper statement and not the lameass one they did yesterday, conduct a transparent internal inquiry (good luck on seeing it), and or the department of fair trade looks into it, because if this FUBAR has shown one thing is that Amazon is large enough to call the shots on the information consumers receive ala GOOGLE. Any kind of monopoly/monopsony should, as a competition issue, be investigated by authorities sooner if not later. I’m expecting the European Commission to take the first step.

Links too numerous to mention about this topic. For a recap and analysis, see DearAuthor‘s site here and here, with more to come in the next days, I’m sure.

Updated 15/4/09 from Seattle PI:  It was a clerical error, apparently. In France.  Still doesn’t explain why Adult books fell off the search.

Updated 21/4/09 via Claudia via AfterEllen.com – it sounds like there is a troll inside Amazon secretly going after LGBT and feminist books. Claudia believes, from a Twitter thread, that someone in Amazon was/is now deleting provocative covers linked to non-het books. The mystery deepens.

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Entry filed under: Absurdities, Literary related news. Tags: .

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Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.