Amazon is attempting to segregate adult material from their catalogue by removing that material from the sales rank list. This has members of the Gay community upset because they think their literature is being targeted to a greater extent. From Mashable...
Probst also notes, however, that Amazon has de-ranked heterosexual romance novels in its erotica section. So the allegation is not so much that Amazon is removing all gay romance (some still remains), but rather questioning whether Amazon’s standards for what constitutes “adult” material are biased against homosexual romance. It should also be noted that Amazon still sells these books: they simply no longer appear in public sales rankings.
In the comments of that post, and elsewhere on LiveJournal, readers have been searching Amazon to find bias in the books removed from the rankings. The examples found do appear to hold water:
The Mashable article closes with this...
The book blog Booksquare has posted an open letter to Amazon regarding the change, and the topic “#amazonfail” has been trending on Twitter for most of Sunday. Whatever Amazon’s response to the issue, they’ll need to respond quickly and publicly to the allegations.
This might not appear to be a tech issue but it very much is so bear with me as I explain..
Logically the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transsexual) community had two choices here. Stir up trouble publicly or try to deal with Amazon privately. They chose the former. That was, in my opinion, a mistake. A mistake caused largely by technology.
You see making a big fuss pushes Amazon into a very uncomfortable position. If Amazon does respond to the perceived bias against LGBT books the other side of the coin (Religious groups, anti-gay activists, et al) will cry foul claiming Amazon is giving special treatment to LGBT books.
So then it becomes an issue of size. Whose political faction is bigger? Because I honestly don't think Amazon cares. They are out to make money and while they'd prefer no one be mad at them if given a choice they are going to take the path that makes the fewest people angry.
So it all comes down to whose support is bigger.
But on the size issue the LGBT community almost certainly loses. Take a look at the controversial subject of gay marriage and you find that 48 states have some kind of ban on it while only 2 allow it. So in this political arena the deck is obviously stacked against the LGBT community.
Which is how we get back to tech. Whatever your cause you have to think strategically to get a positive result. Thinking strategically means having a realistic view of what your support is.
Tech people tend to think everyone is on the Internet and actively participating (e.g. contributing rather than passively reading and/or purchasing). So when everyone on Twitter seems to be on one side of an issue they assume there's significant support there. But in truth the group actively participating on the Internet is very small and very one sided. So looking at it gives you an inaccurate view of your support.
That inaccurate view is surely why the LGBT community chose to make this into a public issue. They think they can force Amazon's hand because of their massive support. But, as shown above, they are starting a confrontation they're likely to use.
Had they looked realistically at things they could have contacted Amazon privately and kept the issue from blowing up into something the other side of the political spectrum feels they need to respond to.
Again, Amazon wants to make money. They'd surely respond to a reasonable private request. Meaning the LGBT community had a good chance of getting exactly what they wanted by doing things privately. A much better chance than they have now.
Addendum: I've gotten a few e-mails about this article where a Rep. from Amazon claims the issue was "a glitch" and that it will be fixed. When asked to elaborate on "the glitch" she can't which makes me think this is an attempt to placate the LGBT community without actually doing anything. Most people have short attentions spans and usually if you tell them you'll fix it they stop paying attention.