April 14th, 2009
Amazon’s de-ranking of LGBT-themed books generated a host of competing theories of what happened. Amazon’s first response to inquiries, which labeled LGBT books as “‘adult’ material,” suggested that the de-ranking was intentional. That response was followed by another one, blaming the whole mishap on a “glitch,” a dubious term that continues to be inserted inside of quotation marks everywhere.
Meanwhile theories have flooded the ‘net, with some suggesting that it was the result of a coordinated outside attack by shadowy anti-gay groups “flagging” LGBT-themed books for objectionable content and watching Amazon’s automated systems taking over from there. There was even one hacker claiming credit for the chaos.
But now more recent statements from Amazon officials and Amazon insiders sheds more light on the “glitch.” Here is their official respons
This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.
It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.
Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.
The Seattle Stranger blog has more inside information, indicating that it was a badly written and tested piece of code that was inserted into Amazon’s software. Apparently, the French software developer mixed up “adult” with “erotic” and “sexuality,” and that ended up garbling the whole thing. As a software developer myself, I can see how this sort of thing can happen when there is little oversight in testing candidate code changes.
But that is worrisome. Responsible and well-managed software outfits always make sure there are proper peer reviews and rigorous software testing before software is released for public use. A bug like this could have been easily detected during peer reviews, and should have been caught during software regression test. Neither of these two very fundamental steps, it appears, were taken. Or if they were performed — and I have a very hard time imagining a peer review letting this sort of error go undetected — they were performed poorly.
And it’s not just Amazon customers who should be concerned. Amazon Associates, publishers, and used bookstores all trust Amazon with financial transactions. Bookstores, in addition, trust Amazon to properly list and promote their inventory as well. What assurances do they have that a similar “glitch” won’t adversely affect their businesses?
It would almost be better for Amazon, its customers, and associate businesses and individuals if this whole episode had been an anti-gay conspiracy.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.