What Do Amazon's Computers Have Against Fictional Gays And Lesbians?

from the just-wondering... dept

The big controversy of the weekend (there's always gotta be at least one, it seems) is that people started noticing that Amazon.com started removing books that involve gay or lesbian characters from its sales rankings, and when asked about it, the company initially said that it was excluding "adult" material from certain searches. That struck many as odd, considering that many of the "excluded" books weren't "adult" at all. After the controversy continued, Amazon changed its story and started claiming that it was actually all just a computer "glitch." Of course, this sounds remarkably similar to the computer "glitch" Amazon found when it suddenly deleted a bunch of negative reviews of EA's DRM-encrusted video game Spore. Whether it's true or not, Amazon is certainly giving off the appearance that it blames any such mistake on a "glitch," but never seems to provide anything in the way of details to support that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 1:40am

    That's some glitch... I guess they will continually use the 'glitcj' excuse as long as people keep letting them get away with it, and as long as they are a driving force of book sales, they'll be in the position to get away with it...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 2:43am

    Is it just me - or is the world waiting for a segment of old, white biggoted male execs to die off within the next 5-10 years?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 2:52am

    Re:

    It's not just you.

     

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  4.  
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    Osno, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 3:20am

    No problem... there's young white biggoted male execs to replace them. Didn't know those run Amazon, but it looks like they do.

    Anyway, The straight road to kyle (teen gay fiction), which is the only gay culture book I can think of right now, still shows. Either they fixed the glitch, or they never knew that that one has gay characters in it.

     

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  5.  
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    R. Miles, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 3:55am

    Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    Let's see...

    Remove the listing because the country is still anti-homosexual and not offend potential bible-thumping new customers

    -OR-

    Leave the listing and receive countless attacks from those same bible-thumping customers.

    Glitch be thy name until such time listings don't portray homosexuality but still remain on the list.

    Programmers are going to be working overtime on this one.

     

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  6.  
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    Jason, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 4:18am

    I'm glad now that everything I ever wanted to buy from them, they wouldn't sell it to me because I live in the wrong country.

    They might take note of Blockbuster's experience in Australia - stores dying out, it seems. BB never had any of the videos *I* wanted to watch, that's for sure.

     

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  7.  
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    Lucretious, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 4:21am

    Re:

    yes, because whites are the only ones showing this level of homphobia. We should all emulate the model that is the african american community which regularly vehemently decries any comparison to its own issues with prejudice among the greater population. Or Many Asian, middle east or slavic cultures which have been known to imprison folks for homosexual "deviancy".

    just stop, please.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 4:25am

    Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    I guess the attacks never come from the other direction?

    I don't know why people get so upset about stuff like this. They are a business. We are customers. We don't have to do business with a business we don't like. If you don't believe customers have all the power, just look at Circuit City.

     

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  9.  
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    Haywood, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:02am

    Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    You think religious grounds are the only objections? How about disgusting and unnatural? Unless of course it is two hot chicks, then it is perfectly acceptable.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    WTF are you talking about? Old white bigots at Amazon? You are clueless.

    Amazon's average age is probably closer to 30 than most businesses. But unlike an older established business run by "old white bigots" these newer businesses HATE to admit they are ever wrong. If they answer inquiries at all, they always blame something else.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike K, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:23am

    Re:

    huh... maybe. But I found it interesting that California, a strongly liberal state that Obama won by a landslide, voted to ban gay marriage. Apparently, bigotry is ok as long as it is against homosexuals in California and not African Americans.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Of course, Amazon donates to Republican PACs and campaigns whereas Barnes & Noble donates to Democratic ones. All this info was available on buyblue.com but you can find it in campaign reports if you need to check veracity (it's the web; you should). Amazon has always been right-leaning so this new kerfaffle isn't terribly surprising.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    I was about to flame you... then I realized you were joking. Well played sir!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    >Unless of course it is two hot chicks, then it is perfectly acceptable.

    Amen, brother! There are only two things I can imagine that could improve upon the naturalness of two hot chicks hooking up - adding more hot chicks and/or including me.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re:

    Definitely not just you. Just be glad none of them have found some evil formula to live forever.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:04am

    Re:

    Yet Amazon has both a significantly greater selection of titles and substantially lower prices on almost all titles.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike F., Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:08am

    I think it's great Amazon did something about it, and now if we can just get the rest of the would to wake up. And another thing i'm getting so sick and tired of setting down to watch a tv show with my family, and it will have some type of homosexual content in it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:12am

    It's remarkable. When my computer has a "glitch", I have to close the program in question or restart my computer. When amazon's computers have a glitch, it almost resembles an active and co-ordinated campaign of deletion.

    Weird, that.

     

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  19.  
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    Greg, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    Agreed.

     

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  20.  
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    Jacob L, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:45am

    Re: Mike F.'s comment

    Wake up to what? The religious fanatics? I grew up in the church, still believe in God, and I am a gay man. I think it is terrible that so many extremists pass on their hatred to their children. So what if there is homosexual content in a television show or a book. If you believe it is that inappropriate for your children, then do your best to prevent them from seeing or reading it. It falls on the parent to be involved in their child's lives. But as the basic point of this whole discussion, how is being gay unnatural? Even biologists have studied monkeys who show homosexual behavior. Hmmmmmm maybe they were "molested as a child" too, since that's what causes homosexuality (insert sarcastic eye roll here).

     

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  21.  
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    R. Miles, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    You think religious grounds are the only objections?
    The only? No. Majority? Most definitely.

    How about disgusting and unnatural?
    Disgusting comes down to personal opinion, and there's nothing to be done about that. As for unnatural, hard to say on this one. But that's a topic for a different day.

    Unless of course it is two hot chicks, then it is perfectly acceptable.
    Again, personal opinion. Personally, I'm not against it (regardless of sex). But on the same note, neither does it do anything for me.

    I wouldn't censor it just because of my disinterest in it, but clearly Amazon doesn't feel this way.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: Mike F.'s comment

    I'm sorry but did anybody else read his post with a lisp once he said he was gay?

     

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  23.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Apr 13th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Mike F.'s comment

    I think he meant that almost every show on tv or movie has to include a token gay person/couple, as if it is normal for everyone to have a homosexual involved in their life when this is far from reality. But since when is tv reality? As for the responsibility stuff, you are spot on. If you feel so strongly against homosexuality then don't watch tv!

     

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  24.  
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    AJ, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re:

    Thanks, AJ. We need to overturn these draconian laws no matter what the stupid majority thinks! We need your help desperately to do so. Please help me in my quest to legally marry my nextdoor neighbor, a 12 year old boy. And I also want to get rid of those stupid monogamy laws. I also want to marry my dead grandmother, my sheep, Bessie, and my toaster. These stupid moral laws need to go. Thanks for your support!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And get off my lawn!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    At least they fix the "glitch" after being called out on it.

     

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  27.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    "If you don't believe customers have all the power, just look at Circuit City."

    Ok, and if you DO believe the customers have all the power, just look at historical examples like AIG, IG Farben, Fannie May, Freddie Mac, GM, etc. etc. etc.

    When customers stop buying, but are then forced to buy via government stimulus through taxation, where does the power really lie? Face it, pure capitilism is dead, because capitalists killed it.

     

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  28.  
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    Doo doo, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:20am

    Bitgots???

    Amazingly, for as much "hatred" as I hear the press speak of towards gays, I haven't really seen too much. However, there are a lot of people that don't think its 'ok' either. That does not make them bigots....That is just them speaking out for what they feel is right...

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    Make that two big breasted hot chicks!!!

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    First, the only thing better than fictional hot lesbians are real ones.

    Second, I know a 20 yr old bible thumper who spends his every waking moment trying to get laid. Let him lay eyes on a lesbian though and he lets loose a string of obscenties and insults that'd make sailor blush. I don't know what he'd say if he saw a gay man.

    Funny that, how immoral most religious people are when it comes to their own lives and their own choices, but how quickly they condem everyone else.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    "Capitalism is dead"

    This is exactly what the current administration wants you to believe. You cannot replace the current system until you prove it has failed. The goal now is to make it fail so it can be replaced with Socialism or Communism.

    The current stimulus is not to get the economy rolling; it is to kill it completely.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    So, where are your facts and figures to back up this "most religious people" claim?

    Most religious people realize they have faults too. Oh wait, I don't have any facts and figures either. I guess since I said it last, it must be true.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Mike F.'s comment

    I love the spin gays use by labeling everything "hatred". What non-gays object to, is homosexuality being taught as a perfectly ok and natural act. It is up to the parents to teach their children "right from wrong". Gays want it to be taught that homosexuality is right and non-gays (not all of course) want it taught as wrong. Why don't gays realize being gay doesn't make them special. It is a sexual preference, nothing more.

     

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  34.  
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    TheStuipdOne, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And that comment AJ cuts to the heart. The majority of the voters in california listened to the moral outrage of a minority that think that if two guys get married then the world will end. There is a big difference between allowing the marriage of two consenting adults without regard to gender and letting an adult marry a child or an animal or many adults.

    I'm guessing these people are afraid that their children will do something to make themselves happy instead of pleasing mommy and daddy and passing on the family's genetics to another generation.

     

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  35.  
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    AJ, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But that's where YOUR arguement loses its validity. You open one door, then you MUST open all doors. Why the bigotry against someone wanting to marry a sheep? Or a cub scout? Your argument about 'consenting adults' just doesn't fly. One exception opens all doors.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonybeetch, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Right AJ, right.

    Hm AJ, kinda like marrying someone who isn't the same hue as you was illegal. Oh wait, that's right, that was legalized.

    What was that about "you MUST open all doors"? Hm?

     

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  37.  
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    The infamous Joe, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Your argument about 'consenting adults' just doesn't fly.

    I don't see why it doesn't fly. Sex between consenting adults is perfectly legal, why can't marriage between two consenting adults be legal too? I really don't get what all the fuss is about.

    If it really bothers you that much, we could always say "..between two consenting human adults.." but, something tells me that isn't going to "fly" for you either.

    You open one door, then you MUST open all doors.

    Says who? You? I can have sex with a girl, that doesn't mean I can have sex with an underage girl. There, proof that allowing one thing doesn't allow all things. Now, show me where it says (in print, or in spirit) that allowing one thing allows all things, please.

    Good luck, my misguided, fearful little friend.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I agree, if we open up the marriage thing to include another segment then why not all segments? Why not multiple wives/husbands or any combination? Why not family members? Or farm animals? In fact, why should society have any limits on anything?

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    My "most religious people" comes from 30+ years of going to church. My "most religious people" comes from 20+ years of watching and reading the news and being aware of the comments religious people make and then how they act themselves. My "most religious people" comes from 40 years of life experience.

    See, you got it partially right, most religious people do realize they have faults. The problem is that most religious people, no, most people in general, spend more of their time judging everyone elses faults and shortcomings and sins than they do trying to correct or reconcile their own. That's bad enough when it's a non-religious person who doesn't hold to any truly "higher" sense of right and wrong or morality but to society's, but when it's a religious person who's specifically taught not to throw the first stone, not to judge others, and to keep their own house in order first, then it's especially bad.

     

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  40.  
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    Azrael, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "those stupid monogamy laws"
    Those are really stupid, but not as stupid as the support laws.

     

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  41.  
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    StephanieInCA, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    censorship

    Amazon's homophobia here is obvious and certainly shouldn't be dismissed, but I think this also raises some real concerns about the future of digital publishing and censorship: Making Books Disappear

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    AJ, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The government has a pretty poor track record. Income tax was supposed to be for the top 1% of the income earners. That door was opened and now look at what you have. Same thing with Social Security, government funded healthcare for seniors, and a thousand more. Once you open the door, it will lead to every conceivable permutation.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    AJ, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And I'm ALL for the woman paying the man support too :)

     

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  44.  
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    EC, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    Someone seems to be taking (anonymous) credit for this

    Looks like This guy (new window) seems to be taking credit for the "glitch".

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Personally, I don't care who (or what) anyone else chooses to have sex with, or combine their taxes with before the eyes of their god(s) and government.

    Even less do I care about fictional books written on the subject.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Re: censorship

    Apparently this tag based. The fastest way to kill the system is to tag everything as homosexual, lesbian or any of the other key words. I can imagine the Bible disapearing from searches would set off alarms.

    If they wanted to give individuals the power to block certain key words and classes of things that would be one thing but deciding for everyone what tags are bad is the worst corporate nannyism.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    who got played ?

    All you arguing people please check post 44. It is an alleged hack in an attempt to game Amazon's rating system to get people angry on the internet for the lulz.

    Of course the claim may be bogus, but there is history for this sort of behavior (link) so don't be too quick to condemn Amazon.

     

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  48.  
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    Jesse, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 4:42pm

    Interestingly, homophobic books that explain how to prevent your children from being gay were not removed. Seems strange that a glitch would discriminate like that. Also, a book of Playboy Centerfolds was not removed. Vibrators, dildos and anal plugs are also available and are still being ranked. Interesting.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One exception opens all doors.

    Yeah, either everything should be illegal or everything should be legal. No exceptions.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:42pm

    Re: Re: Rock. Hard place. Introduce each other.

    If you don't believe customers have all the power, just look at Circuit City.

    Heh, I saw a building the other day that used to be a Circuit City. It has a big hand-written sign in the front window that reads "Circuit City is now closed, PERMANENTLY! Thanks to all you NOT-SO-LOYAL customers that PUT US OUT OF BUSINESS!!!!!"

    Yeah, they had a real good attitude there. I'm glad they're gone.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 5:50pm

    Re:

    Weird, that.

    Not only that, but it is selective deletion along ideological lines. I guess Amazon must have built the world's first computer to achieve consciousness but they're just keeping it secret.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Doing it wrong, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    Doin it wrong

    I think their computer glitch is, in this case, letting the wrong person choose what the exclude

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    mskimberlyclark, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 10:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Mike F.'s comment

    You really think you don't have any homosexual's in your life. Hmmmm. Maybe you just don't know you do, Chuck. Maybe you have friend's who haven't come out to you because they sense you are a bigot.

     

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