Sunday, 19 April 2009

Amazon and adult material

There was something a storm in a teacup last week when it was revealed that Amazon were removing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender material from some of their listings. They weren't stopping selling the products, but rather making them inaccessible unless specifically searched for, say, by title or author for a book. This was part of a policy to hide away adult materialon the site.

Quite rightly, there was public outcry over this and Amazon have now reversed the exclusion, citing an "embarassing and hamfisted cataloguing error" as being behind the problem and I'minclined to believe that. So all is well again.

Or is it?

You see, what's been overlooked is all the other adult material that's presumbly been removed from the listings and search results - the porn, basically. There's nothing illegal about this material or they wouldn't have been selling it in the first place, but still they chose to censor its presence on the site. Amazon say this exclusion is "in consideration of our entire customer base", or to put it another way, for moral reasons.

Oddly enough, this new-found sense of morality doesn't extend itself to actually stopping the sale of adult products. Tap in a title you're looking for and it may very well still appear. The company is happy to profit from the sale of adult products, but doesn't want to be seen to be doing so.

It's much like when, many years ago, Yahoo! Groups removed adult groups from their listings, but kept the actual groups themselves because they generated valuable advertising revenue. Quietly, Yahoo! have now reintroduced the groups to the listings, no doubt to encourage more traffic and sell more advertising.

Whether or not the same thing happens at Amazon remains to be seen. I'm not sure how significant the adult revenues are to Amazon, but it's a sorry state of affairs when freedom from censorship is only preserved when financial necessity compels it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ban this sick filth! Won't anybody think of the children?

Or perhaps just Google-style safesearch?