Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Weighing in on the Amazon controversy

If you didn't know yet... has recently recieved a bollocking over the way books that feature or are on homosexuality are listed in searches, and with some specific book searches not coming up with the title at all, after their listings seemed to start changing two months ago.

For a more detailed analysis on the tech side of things, I suggest you read this.

Titles are back
After this weekend just passed, titles were returned to a prominence in search results.

Where's the problem then?
As suggested in the linked article, human interference may have led to the algorithm that Amazon uses to organise search results, becoming biased against books that deal with homosexual themes. Books that were not erotic in genre were automatically classified as adult material, seemingly because they dealt with homosexuality, and were removed from search results on their site due to a move to make sure that books rated as having adult material did not come up in searches.

The problem is that homosexuality seemed to be judged as adult, and kind of wrong, in this reclassification. The article linked above makes a point that a book that advised parents on how to stop their child from being gay was for a time at the top of searches on homosexuality. So in essence, Amazon appeared to be making a judgement call that homosexuality was bad and dirty.

You're straight, where's the problem?
I may be straight, but that doesn't mean I think discrimination against gays and lesbians is right, and I see nothing wrong with homosexuality. I can imagine now, certain religious groups in the US jumping for joy over what has been happening over the last two months on Amazon.

Books that dealt with heterosexual relations and were to some degree adult in nature, were not affected by the reclassification that caused the outrage. These are the kinds of double standards I cannot deal with.

Has the problem been rectified?
Not sure.

Related links
"Why Amazon Didn't Just Have a Glitch", on TechCrunch
Article on SocialVibe site about the controversy
Article at The Register on issue

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