Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon Fail

I have no words. And not just because this rising scandal has been up and down the Internets today and everyone's already said everything I'd like to say re: censorship, discrimination, and sheer stupidity. I can't wait to see how this is going to pan out. And I'd really like to hear a better explanation from Amazon.com than that it was a "glitch." Via Salon:
While the much of the country spent Easter Sunday gorging on marshmallow peeps and pictures of the president's new dog, your trusty local blogosphere fired up a four-alarm scandal over goings-on at Amazon, which had mysteriously stripped the sales rankings of hundreds (thousands?) of books, many of them with LGBT subjects, and reclassified them as "adult" content. The move prevents those books from showing up on the site's Best Seller list and can seriously screw up search results, pretty much rendering some titles invisible.

[...]

So what constitutes "adult" material? What were these terrifying, racy tomes from which the public needed to be protected? Well, as the LA Times blog reported, they include Augusten Burroughs' "Running With Scissors," Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" and the National Book Award winner, "Becoming a Man" by Paul Monette. Oh, and Ellen Degeneres' autobiography. Of course. So many books had been wiped out of the search terms that, on Sunday night, a book search for the term "homosexuality" turned up this: "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality."
Some glitch. Amazon better fix this...and fast.

ETA: More news on the glitch from Feministing's Jessica Valenti whose books Full Frontal Feminism and Yes Means Yes were both affected.

ETA #2: Kate Harding over at Salon reports on Amazon's official statement (though not really an apology), in which their spokesperson calls the whole debacle a "an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error."

4 comments:

Brianna J said...

I'm personally blaming right wing script kiddies, al la the livejournal pedophile scare.

I'd hate to be an amazon developer right now!

Dr. Jay SW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Jay SW said...

Have I mentioned how much I hate the current trendy interweb use of the word "fail"? Like, almost as much as that stupid "haz" crap with the cat pictures?

Anyway, to attend to more serious matters, the e-mail I got from Amazon in response to the threatening complaint I sent upgraded "glitch" to: "embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection." Hmmm...I'd say that excuse is rather "embarrassing and ham-fisted" as well.... Or, as you hip crazy internet youngsters might say: "fail."

By the way, I take full responsibility for that deleted comment above. There was an embarrassing and ham-fisted typographical error.

Aviva said...

Your distrust and distaste for youthful, hip internet lingo is a FAIL, Jay. Fail, fail, fail. Got it?

Actually, I was just mirroring the language used in the "amazonfail" twitter group (which is a whole other linguistic nightmare, now that I think about it...twitter, I mean). Don't shoot the messenger.

Can haz cookie now?