Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Amazon and the ADULT filter

Right, I've hinted at this a few times recently but not really had the time, inclination or energy to make a point about it. Now that I've finished writing my latest release, that I'll talk about later, I want to take a moment to talk about this ADULT filter and how it may affect you. Yes, you, reader or writer.

First of all, to find if you or an author you like has filtered releases, put the author name into Sales Rank Express. Any title with ADULT next to the name has been filtered. Make a habit of checking an author's profile page and searching from 'Kindle Store' instead of All Departments. If you only take one thing away with you from this post or stop reading now, keep those things in mind and try them out, please.

The ADULT filter is something Amazon has been in the process of using at their unspoken discretion for over a year, now. The filter sounds like what it should do is filter adult content, and I've certainly seen enough estranged responses to a similar article posted by the Daily Mail that think it's doing a great and positive thing to protect minors and people that may be offended.

It's not. 

Smashwords has an adult content filter. Google has multiple levels of adult content search result filtering. It's not a difficult concept to implement, and you can generally rest assured that every site and company with the potential for showing some sort of adult content has it behind a warning. Considering everything erotic is posted under the erotica category, it's rather self-sufficient on censoring against minors.

Except it isn't hidden at all. What Amazon has is by no means an actual adult content filter, but an inconsistent mess of what essentially comes down to money-grubbing and abuse. It doesn't make the content any more hidden from minors or people that could be offended by it, and infact for those that browse and buy on a Kindle device, the filter won't affect them in the first place since search will default to 'Kindle Store'. So those unsupervised children with a Kindle and wifi connection will still be directed straight to every adult title.

Why? How? Because what the ADULT filter does is removes the offending content from the All Departments search. That might not seem a big deal in and of itself, but that means more than it may seem. Unless you know of this issue, chances are you just use the All Department search and it certainly brings up some results, including terms that are considered "bad words" and for the most part filtered. It's actually been hard for me to replicate that this filter even existed, sometimes. Since there are some results, people don't think anything is wrong.

Update: Was recently asked about examples, so updating this here, too, but I've also made a newer post clarifying the inconsistencies better, along with e-mail correspondence

The bad words include alot of general kink things. In no particular order; Breeding, Pseudo-Incest (including family words), Gangbang, Creampie, BDSM, Rough, Monster, Ménage and likely more as they go around randomly filtering about half of the results for words they come across and dislike. Even if those words are part of popular mainstream accepted erotica. You'll still find some results in the "All Department" search, but not all results.

To get around that, search in 'Kindle Store' where all these filtered titles will show up as if there was nothing wrong with them. Regardless of whether you're of legal age to view them or even want to view erotica in your search results. The filter isn't there to protect you or anyone.

It also removes books from the "Also Bought/Browsed" section of unfiltered books. So you won't get recommendations or pairings. For customers and authors alike, that hurts visibility and fractures the community regardless of where you search from. Why? Because Amazon doesn't like your cover, or the extraneous information you put in the title, or perhaps the content. But they won't reject it like they say they will, because that would mean rejecting free money. They will, however, hide it off at the back so they can still rake in the royalties from something they think is offensive trash that they don't want to be associated with selling.

There's nothing adult about it. There's nothing protective about it. This is the most pathetic, childish excuse for double-standards and abuse of monopoly I've ever had the misfortune to be insulted by association to. I'll admit I may be a bit brash and hard with the language here but I really can't get behind and respect their methods in any respect. Amazon aren't going to grow a pair and raise the bar on standard of what they accept or keep open dialogue with authors the way others do. That would cost them money they can still make by giving half-service, accepting everything and then deciding whether or not they like it.

I imagine the process looks something like this.


  1. Very informative. Thank you!

    One thought: it may help a tiny bit to put code saying "url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text" instead of "url=search-alias%3Daps" into links to your own work. I think I'll do this from now on.

    Good luck and good work!

    1. Thank you! Feels good to know it helps out, needs as much exposure as possible so people can really get around it to what they want.

      And oh I see, yes that link change works nicely, yes. If you're signed up for Author Central(change the .com if not US), you can search and add your books to your author profile list, but you have to remember to do it and that still has a delay so an author keyword search link pointed to the right store is pretty nice, yeah.

      Keep up the good work yourself too, it's a great genre to be a part of!