In Target's book descriptions, asterisks were put in place of such words as "transgender," "queer" and "Nazi," sparking cries of censorship.
Publisher's Weekly first reported about the controversy Thursday, saying that some of the redacted words had already been restored after authors and publishers complained, while others remained missing.
Books whose descriptions were altered by the company's automated system included "Trans: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability" by Jack Halberstam, "Double Cross: The True Story of D-Day Spies" by Ben Macintyre and "No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation's Founding by Sean Wilentz, The Washington Post reported.
Target spokeswoman Jenna Reck said the alterations were inadvertent, explaining in a statement that "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" and that the removal of words in book descriptions was an "oversight," according to the Post.
In late December, Nina Packebush, the author of "Girls Like Me," complained that the word "queer" was removed from the book description, and a Target representative initially explained that it was removed because it was considered a slur, Publisher's Weekly reported. In January, the word was restored and then changed to "trans," which the author called an inaccurate reference, the magazine 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," Ohio State University Press director Tony Sanfilippo said, according to Publisher's Weekly. "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."
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