A Concern About Amazon.Com

Social media discovered this weekend that Amazon.com has de-ranked ALL gay-positive books such as Giovanni’s Room while allowing anti-gay books to retain their rankings.  Amazon’s claim is that they are de-ranking all books with adult material, and their handling of gay-themed books is simply part of the automated process.

However, Amazon’s claim is thin given the list of gay books de-ranked and non-gay books left with ranks.  (More from original blogger Mark Probst.)

Twitter was the big booster in raising awareness of this policy. (See current info on Twitter.)

I’ve sent this open letter to Amazon (sent to [email protected], reportedly their executive customer response address):

Dear Amazon,

I am a long-time client and advocate of Amazon.com.  I am completely floored by the reports on how your rankings have systematically removed all gay-positive works from your rankings. 

If the software algorithm had removed all things related to “homosexual” words, I could understand it was a glitch. But leaving an anti-gay A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality while removing Heather has Two Mommies? THAT needs explanation. 

What software “glitch” is going to do this selective de-ranking?  Or, as the post I read this morning asks, “Did Amazon invent the first homophobic computer?”

Galen Workman

Amazon Board of Directors:
Thomas O. Ryder (914) 244-5782
William Gordon (650) 233-2750
Myrtle Potter (650) 225-1000
Alain Monie (206) 266-1000
L. John Doerr (650) 233-2750
Tom Alberg (206) 674-3000
Patricia Stonesifer (206) 709-3140

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One Response to A Concern About Amazon.Com

  1. guyinsf says:

    Wow. It’s amazing what I miss when I’m mostly offline all weekend.

    I *just* did a news search and came up with the news that an Amazon representative told Wired, “This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.” There is also a hacker claiming responsibility, and no one seems to be sure where the truth lies yet.

    See full story on Wired.com

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