Over this past weekend, Amazon Went Homophobic: They removed the rankings from MANY books with GLBTQ content, even children's & YA, saying the books were too "adult"
It actually started on Thursday, when suddenly all these authors of GLBTQ books discovered that their Amazon sales ranking had disappeared.
One author of a book featured on this blogsite, Mark Probst (who wrote "The Filly") contacted Amazon and was told that
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
(see the full story on Mark's blog, here)
Mark's book "The Filly" isn't "adult." It's a YA book with Gay characters. But for Amazon, their new "filter" excluded it!
Jane, over at the Dear Author blogsite has a great rundown of how this was shaking out, showing that some books, Like a Playboy Bunny Centerfold book (pornography) was NOT excluded, while "Heather Has Two Mommies" (a children's picture book), WAS excluded! Another great blow-by-blow with commentary is here at Hayden Thorne's blog.
Outraged like me?
Ben Rattay started an online petition to send a strong and clear message to Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon.com) and Amazon Customer Service!
I signed it here! And wrote them this letter:
Policies of giant companies like yours set the tone of our culture. Deeming ALL books with GLBTQ content as "adult" disenfranchises millions of children and Teenagers from seeing any reflection of their own GLBTQ lives - and robs them of a sense of hope. There are over 200 books on my blogsite, "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" that are books with GLBTQ characters and themes written FOR Teens and children. Don't participate in a homophobia that helps keep these books in the dark. Please re-visit this new policy and prove that Amazon doesn't discriminate against the GLBTQ community!
People began twittering about this over the weekend with the tag #amazonfail and momentum built... Bloggers ran with it, newsgroups and listserves fired up, I got a bunch of emails from friends and colleagues (Thank you, Tricia and Greg and everyone else!) to let me know what was going on, and on Sunday critical mass seemed to have been reached...
Amazon, in a article in the online Publisher's Weekly that ran on Sunday, said that what had happened was a programming "glitch" and denied there being any new policy. Another statement came later, which you can read here on Wired's blog.
A new Twitter stream, #glitchmyass, started up, for those doubting the truth behind Amazon's denial.
When I searched Amazon Monday Morning, most of the egregious cases seeemed to have had their rankings restored (including "The Filly") yet there were others that still didn't have their rankings back.
WOW. The power of the net, of blogs, and of twitter. It's great to see how so many mobilized so fast to stop this in its tracks. The power we have as a community is impressive.
But there's a conspiracy theory here, saying that Amazon itself fell prey to an internet attack, designed to destroy the trust the Gay community had in the giant online retailer... (that some conservative group used a complaint loophole to target certain books and get Amazon's system to automatically de-list them since they'd passed a certain number of complaints that their content was too "adult." It's a fascinating theory, one that reveals another, darker, side to the power of the net.
What do YOU think happened? Was it a conspiracy? A Homophobic policy that backfired? Or just a "glitch?"