What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

Just to chat > Censorship on Goodreads

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message 1: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments Well, this is disturbing. I posted a thread on the Librarian group about a real book being declared NOT A BOOK, and my entire post was deleted, gone without a trace.

I was told by a person who commented to contact support about "staff decisions" because it was not a Librarian matter. I did so, but it seems that they don't want discussion of this topic to be occurring.

Has anyone else noticed censorship of this type happening on Goodreads, when staff decides to delete an actual, published book just because they don't like it?

message 2: by Scott (new)

Scott Yes, a couple months ago I noticed the same thing happen to another book. I wrote support explaining that it was, in fact, a legitimate book, but heard nothing back.

Seems like Goodreads is going from being a "complete database" of every book ever published to a complete database of books they find acceptable.

message 3: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments What was the book?

The book I noticed was just deleted last week. It's definitely offensive. Homophobic, with a bunch of one-star reviews to match. However, I know it exists because I had a physical copy in my hands in college when I was doing research for a project.

I don't understand how Goodreads can just deem it nonexistent. I mean, there are much more horrible books on this site. The "contact us" page even says:

"Book or Cover Deletion Requests

Please be aware that we do not delete records for books that have been published or remove published covers (even if they are no longer available)."

Yet they did just that.

message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott Right, the only thing that matters is that it is a book. GR is not selling it (the Amazon link no longer works) or promoting it (lest the dozens of of 1-star reviews be misconstrued), just acknowledging that it exists.

Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛  (pinkhairedwannabe) | 251 comments This seems to happen every few years I've noticed. There was a huge thing about it, maybe back in 2013, maybe even earlier than that, where GoodReads was deleting a bunch of books for evidently no reason and defending authors with bad habits and even deleting reviews and groups made for the sole purpose of speaking out about said bad behavior. There was a bunch of technical stuff and almost everything I know is complete heresy, but that's the general idea, and I think there's some Mods in this group who were heavily involved with the site when that happened, so. Anyway needless to say I guess I'm not surprised this is still happening even on a lesser scale, that still doesn't make it right though

message 6: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments Maybe some of the mods here will have insight.

Interestingly, I found a thread on the Librarian group from 2014 that was asking for the book to be deleted, and Lobstergirl and rivka both wrote that it could not be deleted just because it was offensive.

I wonder if Goodreads is only doing this to books that they think people will not notice are gone? The book in question is a fairly obscure book from the early '90s.

message 7: by Scott (new)

Scott It's disturbing that someone would request its removal on that basis, though given how things are now, sadly not surprising.

message 8: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments It's kind of insane because there are racist and anti-Semitic books that have been published and are definitely on this site. The Turner Diaries, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, Mein Kampf, obviously. None of them are good books, but they still exist.

You can't just erase uncomfortable things from history.

message 9: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments Still no word from staff on the erasure of Alfie's Home from the Goodreads database.

Looking through the review history, it appears there was a small brigade of people who went through and negatively reviewed the book and reported it on August 5, and someone from the Goodreads staff declared it "NOT A BOOK" on August 6.

So it appears several people complained, and that's enough to have the publication of a book declared non-existent? Goodreads not only declared it non-existent, but also put a warning that any Librarian who tried to restore the book would have their Librarian powers revoked.

Clearly they must have thought no one would notice. When I posted my thread on the Librarian group, I got a snippy reply from the person who deleted the book from the Homophobic Bullshit list that I needed to email support about "staff decisions." Then my thread was completely deleted.

So obviously the deletion was not a mistake, it was deliberate, and they are trying to keep it secret, hoping no one will notice. How can staff decide to remove a book just because people complain? And what is to stop people from organizing brigades to have sexist books deleted, or pro-conservative books deleted, or radical feminist books deleted?

Also, for the record, I have read this book. It is disturbing, but there are plenty of more disturbing books in the Goodreads database. Amazon used to champion free speech. They used to say that they would sell anything, even racist books, even pro-pedophilia books (which, for the record, this is not).

It's upsetting that Goodreads has now decided to participate in "cancel culture." Right now it's this book, but next it could be a book from some other unpopular ideology or political or religious belief. This is a dangerous precedent. Is there any way to make a formal complaint beyond just the "contact us" form that I'm sure will be ignored?

message 10: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments The whole book is also on YouTube, if anyone wants to watch it.

Alfie's Home, as read by Cassie Levy

message 11: by Ky (new)

Ky | 138 comments Can't find it on Amazon either but I had googled the book and there was a link to the book's product reviews page but following it results in a 404.

So Amazon has declared it an unbook too?

message 12: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments It appears so. I noticed that yesterday. How is that possible?

The author's other books have not been deleted. What makes this one different? They're all homophobic books. This one is directed at children, but there are other homophobic children's books out there.

message 13: by Moloch (new)

Moloch | 314 comments Sometimes when there are legal issues they (staff) modify the database (removing books that plagiarized others, for example). In the Librarian group when an author asks to remove a book for legal issues, they are always referred to staff (this means they can remove a book even if librarians shouldn't).

I don't know if this is the case.

I remember I saw a book that I knew it was by author Sergio Bambaren but it was attributed to "author" NOT A BOOK, with a note from staff asking to leave that record alone. I think this was another case of the database altered for some external (legal?) reason.

I don't know if this is the case with this particular book, just offering a possible explanation.

message 14: by Gerd (new)

Gerd | 223 comments Ky wrote: "So Amazon has declared it an unbook too?"

Well, Amazon is a retailer, not a database.
For them it simply means that they do not sell it anymore / allow it being sold on their site.

message 15: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart | 19559 comments But what type of legal reason could there be?

The book does not contain illegal content. It was published in 1993, so it's been around for quite some time. The author is still alive and writing books, although this one is out of print.

If this is being done for political reasons, I find it very disturbing. There are probably thousands of homophobic books out there. This one is no different from any other. They don't deserve to be erased from existence. We still have freedom of speech in this country, even if the speech is unpopular.

In fact, I don't know how many people here remember the early '90s, but the author's opinion was not even that far out of the mainstream back then. It seems absurd from the vantage point of 2020, but if you were involved in the gay community or (like me) were raised in the gay community, there was huge, massive stigma at the time around the topic of homosexuality and children.

There were tremendous fights over books like Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate being made available to children. Many mainstream people sincerely believed that gay men were a danger to children and that people became gay due to sexual abuse. And that even being around gay adults was harmful to children and had the potential of "turning" children gay.

Like I said, absurd, but these were mainstream beliefs in America at the time. I spent a lot of my free time in the early days of the Internet trying to refute those beliefs, but people believed in all sincerity that children were at risk around gay adults or even reading books about gay adults or seeing them on television. This is part of that time in history.

If nothing else, this book has historical significance. It was one of the few children's books of that era to address homosexuality, and the only difference between it and others of the time was the negative stance. To have it erased from existence seems Orwellian, like Goodreads and Amazon are trying to rewrite history.

message 16: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (last edited Aug 14, 2020 02:00AM) (new)

Lobstergirl | 39582 comments Mod
I bet the removal is related to QAnon.

The book features pedophila (the uncle gets into the boy's bed and I guess turns him gay? I only read two pages).

From a NYT article dated 8/12/20:

"QAnon Followers Are Hijacking the #SaveTheChildren Movement

Fans of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory are clogging anti-trafficking hotlines, infiltrating Facebook groups and raising false fears about child exploitation."


The reviews from July 27 - Aug. 6 are all demanding that the book be taken down. Most of those reviewers joined Goodreads this month and have only shelved that book. In other words, they are traffic driven here from some other site, like Twitter, Facebook, reddit, whatever.

If you look at earlier reviews, they focus much more on the homophobic aspect and the gay conversion aspect, rather than the pedophilia.

QAnon is obsessed with pedophila. They are a conspiracy group that believes there is "a global conspiracy involving a ring of Satan-worshiping, child-molesting criminals led by prominent Democrats" and that "Hillary Clinton and her cronies are kidnapping and eating children ... in order to harvest a life-extending chemical from their blood." They believe that Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, and Pope Francis among other elites are coordinating child sex trafficking.

Apparently using the cover of anti-pedophila, they have infiltrated parenting groups on Facebook and other places, using the save the children hashtag. Members of these groups don't realize they've been infiltrated and are now unwittingly propping up and supporting QAnon on social media, following their links, making comments etc.

So the reviews from the last few weeks are probably either QAnon members/supporters, or people who have been duped by them.

I doubt GR is aware of the QAnon connection (although of course they could be). They're just freaked out by a sudden onslaught of reviews shrieking that the book needs to be removed and threatening to sue....

More from the article:

"The strategy of seeding QAnon talking points with different audiences appears to be working. In recent weeks, Facebook engagement on human-trafficking-related content has surged..."

"Prominent “mommy bloggers” and Instagram fitness influencers have begun posting anti-trafficking memes to their millions of followers. Even the Trump campaign has begun sharing more anti-trafficking content to its millions of Facebook and Twitter followers.

The QAnon strategy of pushing some unobjectionable, often factual content about human trafficking in addition to wild conspiracy theories has blurred the lines between legitimate anti-trafficking activism and partisan conspiracy mongering."

"I spoke to a number of longtime anti-trafficking activists who were alarmed by QAnon’s recent incursion onto their turf. They had worked for years to expose facts about child trafficking, only to see them distorted and misused by partisan opportunists. And they worried that in addition to clogging hotlines, QAnon believers could undermine the movement’s bipartisan credibility."

message 17: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39582 comments Mod
Interesting how GR is apparently reading these reviews, but not abiding by their own terms of use....

"Are you kidding me? You promote pedophilia nowadays?
I am contacting office of attorney general to report your site for negligence toward children and promoting pedophilia!
May you burn in hell!"

seems to violate "Reviews that are harassing or threatening, or that contain hate speech or bigotry. These will be deleted outright and anyone posting them risks being removed from the site."

message 18: by Rosa (last edited Aug 14, 2020 02:14AM) (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 5210 comments Scott wrote: "Yes, a couple months ago I noticed the same thing happen to another book. I wrote support explaining that it was, in fact, a legitimate book, but heard nothing back.

Seems like Goodreads is going ..."

What was that book, Scott?

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