Target US metadata glitch causes book descriptions to be redacted
In the US, department store retailer Target has been accused of redacting some words from the descriptions of books on its website, reports Publishers Weekly.
According to a number of authors and publishers, Target redacted certain words including ‘queer’, ‘Nazi’, ‘trans’ and ‘snatch’ in what appears to be an issue with an automated process. Baker & Taylor, which provides Target with book fulfillment and metadata, confirmed that it does not edit metadata.
Target spokesperson Jenna Reck responded to the claims in a statement: ‘Like most online retailers, Target doesn’t want profanity and other select words to appear on our website in an effort to ensure a positive shopping experience. We recently learned that a small number of words were being inadvertently removed from book descriptions on Target.com. This was an oversight on our part and they should be included. We’re working to update our site with the descriptions that were provided to Target by the book publishers.’
Since the report by Publishers Weekly, Target has reinstated some of the words, but there appears to be continuing issues with certain words being replaced with asterisks. For example, the word ‘stripper’ was redacted from the description of Roxane Gay’s book Difficult Women, while the word ‘bondage’ was redacted from the product description of a book about slavery.
Ohio State University Press director Tony Sanfilippo said: ‘I understand that they might want to avoid controversy. But if they want to keep Nazis off their site, or Nazi-themed products out of their search results, there are ways of doing that that don’t censor. If you can’t say ‘Nazi’, you can’t stop Nazis. And if you can’t search for books about the trans community and trans issues, your search engine and your corporate philosophy are morally flawed.’
Category: International news