Conspiracy theories aplenty as Amazon delists gay books
Right wingers blamed
Gay and lesbian advocates took umbrage at Amazon.com on Monday after the online seller removed sales rankings for hundreds of books that contained homosexual themes.
The delisting, which affected books including James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, and Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, has been taken as an affront by many because sales rankings are often used to promote specific titles. Higher scores frequently lead to better placement on Amazon and third-party sites. Some critics have called for a boycott of Amazon to protest what they say was bias by the online seller.
Amazon officials blamed the delisting on an error that they said affected more than 57,000 titles that touched on a variety of topics, including Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica.
"This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection," Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith wrote in an email. "This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search."
But that didn't stop critics from advancing conspiracy theories that the move was the result of people inside Amazon bending to the will of right-wingers trying to censor books they don't like.
"This doesn't strike me as a glitch," author Kevin Sessums, whose paperback version of Mississippi Sissy was affected by the delisting, told The Wall Street Journal. "Maybe a right-wing troll got into their system, or they have a right wing troll working for them. But the gay blogosphere is afire."
Indeed, it was, with many calling for a boycott on the online seller. They pointed to Amazon's search results for "homosexuality," which prominently offers titles including A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality and You Don't Have to Be Gay: Hope and Freedom for Males Struggling With Homosexuality or for Those Who Know of Someone Who Is. (Interestingly, the same search conducted on Amazon.ca yields vastly different results.)
"By removing gay-related content from its rankings, Amazon has made it so that they do not appear easily in searches and do not appear in book suggestions throughout the site," a blogger for gay rights blog Queerty wrote.
A separate account by a blogger calling himself Weev claimed the delisting was the result of a CSRF, cross-site request forgery, vulnerability on the Amazon website that forced people to unwittingly flag gay- and lesbian-themed books as inappropriate. We seriously doubt this account, however, as there was little to support the hacker's contentions, and we're still trying to locate a feature on the site that allows users to report inappropriate merchandise to administrators. ®
Obviously not accidental, nor inflicted by a third party.
Since the PORN is not hidden as 'adult' material, the delisting is not due to an 'adult' filter.
Since the world has retailiated against the presumed radical Christian instigator, every version of the Bible has been tagged with 'Adult, Hate, Hate Crimes, Genocide, Gay, Gay Porn' several thousand times. Yet they still show up in searches and rankings. Therefore, it is not an automatic response to users tagging books with 'adult' tags.
Since the "Gay bashing" books^H^H^H^H^H works of hate of are not excluded, even though they have a particular synonym for 'happy' in their title, it wasn't due to a filter culling everything with 'gay' in the title or synopsis.
Unless I see a more complete list of works that have been delisted, and it supports the theory of incompetence, I have to conclude that this is a malicious attack against gays. Incompetence is not a credible cause at this point.
First they delisted the gays, and I DID speak up, because I am not a gay.
-With profound respect for the intentions of the original author.
Business As Usual
It all boils down to dollars. Because gay and lesbian "themed" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean) literature appears to appeal only to a miniority of the population, it's relatively easy for a corporation like Amazon to behave this way (if in fact the action was intentional).
Thank "God" history is not with the bigots and panderers on this issue. Support for gay rights in employment and marriage has been steadily increasing year on year since the 1970's, notwithstanding the considerable political and financial efforts of american evangelical hate-mongerers. Thankfully, most are old, and their numbers are dwindling. We just have to wait a little longer for them to receive their last reward so that we can finally receive ours.
1, 2, 3, 4 we want a flame war!
Ok, if data was accidentally deleted (e.g. ratings data) then restoring it might require each book title to be individually examined. If its customer generated data ("rate this book", "customers also bought") then that might not be backed up as it is transient data.
@AC 11:52 You know there is a "Joke alert" icon and still you persist! You're a very naughty boy! Please apologise for creating the Gay Blogosphere - and use a smiley next time!
@Luken Brewer - I know its uncool but you really need to put Christians and Creationists first on your list of those are bound to suffer abuse. Pretty much everyone else on your list er, gets off lightly. Check the el reg archives if you want evidence.