writes "It seems like Amazon's recent policy change on obscenity was no such thing. Evil trolling group Bantown have claimed responsibility. Turns out it was all done with a few lines of script. A former member explains.
Bantown is a tactic for inciting meta-lulz on multiple levels through the alignment of third-parties against each other. Bantown is like the plot of most James Bond movies, wherein some nefarious evildoer brings the US and the Soviets close to war. Bantown is a trolling technique of the highest order, which usually pits communities against each other, or communities against companies, or organizations against companies, or companies against organizations
Here's the pastebin explanation in case it gets taken down
Hay dude. Amazon removed its customer-based reporting of adult books yesterday. I guess my game is up! Here's a nice piece I like to call "how to cause moral outrage from the entire Internet in ten lines of code".
I really hate reputation systems based on user input. This started a while back on Craigslist, when I was trying to score chicks to do heroin with. My listings like "looking to get tarred and pleasured" and "Searching for a heroine to do the paronym of this sentence's lexical subject" kept getting flagged. The audacity of the San Francisco gay community disgusted me. They would flag my ads down but searching craigslist for "pnp" or "tina" reveals tons of hairy dudes searching for other hairy dudes to do meth with. So I decided to get them back, and cause a few hundred thousand queers some outrage.
I'm logged into Amazon at the time and see it has a "report as inappropriate" feature at the bottom of a page. I do a quick test on a few sets of gay books. I see that I can get them removed from search rankings with an insignificant number of votes.
I do this for a while, but never really get off my ass to scale it until recently.
So I script some quick bash.
let count = 1
while true; do
links -dump 'http://www.amazon.com/s/qid=0/?ie=ASCII&rs=1000&keywords=Gay_and_Lesbian&rh=n%3A!1000%2Ci%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3AHomosexuality&page='`echo $count`|grep \/dp\/ >> /tmp/amazon
There's some quick code to grab all the Gay and Lesbian metadata-tagged books on amazon. Then I pull out all the IDs of the given books from those URLs:
cat /tmp/amazon |sed s/.*dp\\/// |sed s/\\/ref.*//
and I have a neat little list of the internal product ID of every fag book on Amazon.
Now from here it was a matter of getting a lot of people to vote for the books. The thing about the adult reporting function of Amazon was that it was vulnerable to something called "Cross-site request forgery'. This means if I referred someone to the URL of the successful complaint, it would register as a complaint if they were logged in. So now it is a numbers game.
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. 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.
I also hired third worlders to register accounts for me en masse. If you ever need a service like that, you can find them in a post like this advertising in the comments:
Then they would log into the accounts, save the cookies in a cookie file and send it to me.
Then I used the cookie files like so to automated-report all the books:
for i in `cat /tmp/amazon |sed s/.*dp\\/// |sed s/\\/ref.*//`; do lynx -cookie_file=/home/avex/cookie1 http://www.amazon.com/ri/product-listing/`echo $i`/;done
The combination of these two actions resulted in a mass delisting of queer books being delisted from the rankings at Amazon.
I guess my game is up, but 300+ hits on google news for amazon gay and outrage across the blogosphere ain't so bad.
The only person to figure it out was dely from Six Apart: http://tehdely.livejournal.com/88823.html but he has been ground zero at my work, cleaning up my messes before.
So just letting you know the chain of events. if you choose to report on this, please don't disclose my identity/email address. Thanks!