Yesterday ZDNet published an interview with CloudFlare chief executive Matthew Prince that has to be read to be believed.
In an article fancifully titled "How Amazon's monster erotica book ban helped shape CloudFlare stance on censorship", ZDNet's Zack Whittaker quotes Price as saying:
"I worry about Jeff Bezos' bizarre obsession with dinosaur sex," said Prince, towards the end of a long conversation in our New York newsroom.
"I don't think I've ever heard a chief executive -- hell, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything like that before," I said.
Prince was referring to how the bookseller and online retail giant banned so-called "monster erotica," a genre of fan-fiction revolving around fantasy-based fictional encounters with mythical or extinct creatures (including dinosaurs), which was for a time sold on its online bookstore. Amazon, according to reports, pulled hundreds of the self-published books it sold -- as well as some content that fetishized incest and rape -- despite "vague" guidelines by the retailer.
"You can make a rational argument that if you're writing books fantasizing about having sex with animals or children, maybe that promotes a certain kind of behavior. But there's no risk of someone abusing a dinosaur," he said.
Well, this is sad. ZDNet has taken a leaf from the Daily Mail's playbook; the tech site is now publishing gossip and making no effort to play the journalist or even check its facts.
But don't worry; I will do the job that Whittaker shirked.
No, monster erotica is not banned from the Kindle Store; you can find erotica in its many forms, including monster, dino, alien, or something else. You can also find much the same selection in other major ebook retailers, including Nook, Google Play Books, iBooks, etc.
The so-called "ban" mentioned above wasn't and isn't a ban. Instead it was a short-lived purge that removed many self-published titles based on keyword searches.
The purge was focused on erotica in general, and not monster erotica in particular, and was carried out so poorly that many titles outside the erotica genre were also swept up. Furthermore, that purge occurring in all the major ebookstores at or about the same time. That purge was sparked by a wave of moral hand-wringing, and it died down once the hysteria went away.
It was not a blanket ban on monster erotica, and to describe it as such was a failure to accurately report the story. Leaving out the detail about other ebook retailers, including that Kobo's resulting policy was more strict than Amazon's, was a second failure.
And as for the claim that Jeff Bezos has any type of obsession with dinosaur sex, I can't tell you whether the Cloudflare CEO was misquoted or was simply gossiping when hanging out, but I would remind you that the "banned" content is still available in the Kindle Store.
Also, a few weeks ago the NYTimes posted a tell-all report of what it was like to work for Amazon. That report was ultimately disputed by many, but more importantly the NYTimes report did not mention anything about Jeff Bezos laying down the law on selling monster erotica or any other type of erotica.
Do you really think the NYTimes would have missed detail like that, or failed to publish it if they had it?
I don't. This story would have been too juicy to pass up.
image by uvw916a