Amazon Preventing Homosexuality

Over the weekend, as the #AmazonFail tweets began to pour in, I was willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was just a glitch that was handled poorly by a really inept public relations person. I didn’t want Amazon to come off looking like a company of assholes, because I think there is real value in what they do, so I put on my rose-colored glasses and I waited.

But then I read this piece on The Elegant Variation, which linked through to this Washington Post article about Amazon’s search algorithm, and I realized that Amazon.com has much deeper issues to solve than the problem they’re dealing with right now. Mary Hodder writes:

Their point of view, revealed this week, is that “positive references to sexual orientation == gay” is “adult” in nature. ...[S]exual orientation is part of “adult”. And “gay” is part of “adult.” In other words, #AmazonFail is about the subconscious assumptions of people built into algorithms and classification that contain discriminatory ideas.

Amazon is still, as of this writing, struggling with the fallout. As depicted in the screenshot above, the #1 result for an Amazon search on the word homosexuality remains a book titled A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. They need to fix this, and they need to fix this fast. We are all geeks in this world, geeks for one thing or another. And we should not be discriminating against people who are geeks for same-sex lovin’ any more than we should be discriminating against geeks who go nuts for, say, Star Wars. If a person’s obsession does no harm to anyone else, then leave them alone. That should be the law, perhaps the only law. But, until our government makes that happen, we’ve got to police ourselves.

Amazon, get this done! Fix this.