Amazon.com denies a hacker's claim to have been responsible for numerous books for sale via Amazon.com losing their sales rankings over the weekend. The Amazon.com glitch affected more than 57,000 titles, and not just gay-themed books, as was widely reported.
is disputing an account that a hacker was to blame for an
error that caused thousands of books to lose their sales ranks over the
According to Amazon.com Director of Corporate Communications Patty Smith, the
situation was due to a cataloging error. Smith disputed a supposed
confession posted on a LiveJournal
April 13, in which a hacker identified as "Weev"
claimed he had exploited an Amazon.com feature for reporting inappropriate
"The thing about the adult reporting function of Amazon was that it was
vulnerable to something called "Cross-site request forgery,'" he
wrote. "This means if I referred someone to the URL of the successful
complaint, it would register as a complaint if they were logged in.
"I know some people who run some extremely high traffic (Alexa top
1000) Websites. I show them my idea, and we all agree that it is pretty
funny," he continued. "They put an invisible iframe in their Websites
to refer people to the complaint URLs, which caused huge numbers of visitors to
report gay and lesbian items as inappropriate without their knowledge."
here to read more about the Amazon.com glitch that removed many books' sales
However, contrary to statements in Weev's blog entry and some reports,
the situation was not limited to gay-themed books.
"It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay &
Lesbian themed titles-in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad
categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine,
and Erotica," Smith said in a statement. "This problem impacted books
not just in the United States
but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of
removing the books from Amazon's main product search."
The situation has drawn the ire of some gay and lesbian rights groups
concerned that gay-themed books were being censored. In addition, some authors
have claimed in press reports that they received e-mails from Amazon.com
stating that their books had been placed in an unranked Adult category
and excluded from some searches.
"Many books have now been fixed and we're in the process of fixing the
remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to
make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future," Smith said.