The particular double standard observed in Google Play’s ebook store was highlighted recently for John Linton Roberson, an indie comics veteran who produces eclectic works with an erotic edge. Roberson’s current work-in-progress is Lulu, a contemporary adaptation of German playwright Frank Wedekind’s 19th century sex tragedy. His previous work has included Vladrushka, an original satire about a Siberian porn star, and the art for The Story of OH!, a spoof of Italian comic artist Guido Crepax’s 1975 adaptation of the 1954 French erotic novel The Story of O. Featuring complex female protagonists and frequently alluding to art, literature, and film of various eras, Fifty Shades they’re not...
...the real problem with Google Play’s suppression of Roberson’s work is its apparent hypocrisy. Although the content policy supposedly bans bestiality and “sexually explicit terms in titles, subtitles or descriptions,” for instance, interested parties can still buy Done By The Deinonychus and 15 Stories of Anal Sex. For creators like Roberson, whose stories have been taken down for even tamer sex and nudity, this stings a bit, to say the least.
A clue to the reason for this inconsistent application of policy may lie right in the policy itself; near the bottom of the page, Google Play says that it “receives reports of policy violations through the ‘Report Abuse’ button found in our product.” Conspicuously absent is any mention that humans at Google review books for policy adherence before they’re made available for sale. ...
If Google Play truly does rely primarily on user reports to notify it of alleged policy violations, then it becomes plausible that works like Roberson’s–which actually have a plot and thus a more detailed description on the retail site–might be more susceptible to scrutiny because they may turn up in unrelated search results and thus be reported more often than 15 Stories of Anal Sex. Adding to the frustration, Roberson says, is the absence of any avenue to appeal a removal decision.
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