14 04 2009

Early this week, a Twitter-based outburst arose over what appeared to be a systematic effort by to censor gay and lesbian books. The company insists it was a “glitch” or the result of “an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error.” What appears to have happened is that books categorized with the terms gay, lesbian, etc. lost their sales rank data, and would not show up in searches. They were flagged as “adult,” and apparently has a policy of keeping “adult” themed items from showing up in their searches, presumably to protect the children and the self-righteous from being aware of sex.

The articles linked above provide a pretty good overview of the situation – so please check them out to get a better sense of the story than I can provide here.

This isn’t necessarily a naturist issue, but it could become one if they decide that simple nudity is enough to make a book potentially offensive – which is not currently the case. Presumably they’ll be more careful now that they know everyone is watching them.

I’m inclined to give the company the benefit of the doubt, and to assume that it was a careless mistake rather than a corporate decision to prevent certain books from showing up in search results.

Your thoughts?