Thursday, September 29, 2016

A New Kind Of Censorship: One-Star Bigotry on Goodreads

Have you heard about what's been happening to debut YA author Laura Silverman @LJSilverman1 ? (This Huffington Post article by Claire Fallon, Neo-Nazi Trump Supporters Are Going After YA Books Now is a good catch-up.)

Laura's book, Girl Out Of Water (May 2017, Sourcebooks Fire) isn't out yet. The review copies aren't out yet. But suddenly the book's goodreads account had more than 1,500 ratings of the book. The book that almost NONE OF THEM, unless they were personal friends with the author, could have possibly read.

At first, the pile-on was of haters, and one-star reviews, including one that said she was "literally worse than Hitler." Laura sounded the alarm,

And then many people (including some famous authors) added their supportive 5-star reviews. As of this writing, the book's goodreads page had over 1,750 ratings and 506 reviews. And a 4.77 rating.

The Huffington Post article stated that according to Kathryn Lynch, a publicist at Sourcebooks, "Goodreads was able to remove the troll reviews and ratings by early this week."

Is this the new battleground for censorship? And is the response by a community trying to support an author under attack by adding their own 5-star reviews diluting the whole purpose of a community-based book review site? Is the real culprit the anonymous element, that people can create goodreads accounts not tied to their actual identities, and do so just to attack people like Laura?

I don't profess to have all the answers. But as we observe #BannedBooksWeek and celebrate the freedom to read, it's clear that these questions are something our community needs to engage with.

Illustrate and Write On,

ps - Goodreads did not respond to a request for comment.

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