Amazon removes GLBT books from search, some books back in online store

The twittersphere has been, well, a-twitter (sorry!) about a story this weekend of Amazon pulling media with GLBT content from it’s sales ranking. Search #amazonfail to have a look.

The excuse?
The books were “adult” materials. However, it became quickly clear that it was GLBT content that was defining “adultness,” rather than the potential age-appropriateness of the content.

The impact? These books were removed from Amazon’s search engine.

Dan Savage weighs in:

It’s a freaking high-tech book burning. Mein Kampf and American Psycho not considered “adult” by Amazon, Heather Has Two Mommies—a children’s book—is? And no anti-gay titles affected, so first search on ‘homosexual’ brings up AFA book on preventing your kid from being gay when he grows up!

The line. Amazon has responded that the removal of these books was a “glitch.” But apparently an Amazon representative has said that it wasn’t a technical error. From Feministing:

Basically he said that amazon has been experimenting with the way they dole out content specifically so that people who are searching Harry Potter or whatever won’t run into links to products that might be offensive….It’s super fucked up, but apparently he’s saying that Amazon is a bully when it comes to stuff like this and it’s all about sales for them and it’s not about censorship. …  this is mandated from their bosses, who essentially want to be Walmart.

Our take: This exposes the private censorship that is going on and probably to a larger extent than we are usually aware of. This censorship is, of course, private corporate decisions, and there’s no law being violated here. But there is a danger to recognize when one store which has such broad reach decides to tighten content restrictions.

Anna N. at Jezebel points out:

Whether or not Amazon intended to keep us from buying evil gay propaganda, the debacle does reveal something disturbing about our reliance on online bookstores. At least in books-and-mortar stores you have to actually burn the books to keep them away from people — on Amazon, you can just make them invisible.

A new thread: #glitchmyass collects twitter skeptics of the “glitch” theory. And @vashtan is watching the book list to make sure missing books get back on. At around 3 pm, he tweeted:

WE WIN: AMAZON RESTORES LISTING – please RT: Blacklisted books restored: #amazonfail #glitchmyass

As @raquelita responded around 4 pm:

@vashtan That’s great Amazon’s restoring rankings but it’s by no means done. Not mine, not @JessicaValenti, etc. #amazonfail #glitchmyass

A new thread at Twitter tracks the books that still are not appearing in the Amazon search:

vashtan: #StillDelisted and #Delistme for those books that have not been restored?

About Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship

Blogging Censorship is where National Coalition Against Censorship staff weigh in on the censorship issues on their minds.
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