If Amazon were a country, its GDP would be among the top eight percent. Last year, it surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer.
So when Amazon revealed in July that it had been providing law enforcement with private footage from Ring doorbell cameras it had sold to customers, it signaled that Amazon was no longer just in the business of consumer products – it was in the business of governing. But Amazon hasn’t just been working with law enforcement; the e-commerce giant has been filling the role of law enforcement for years.
Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson reported that Amazon has banned books by famed Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin at the request of the Biden administration, who deemed it part of “Russia-related sanctions”.
“So we reached out to Amazon to ask, ‘Why can’t we find any books by this guy?’” Carlson said. “And then we realize because he’s been banned from Amazon. So then we asked Amazon for a list of all books and authors who’ve been banned from their platform, and they wouldn’t give it to us. So we went back and forth, back and forth. And finally, Amazon provided a six-word response, and we’re quoting: ‘Amazon complies with all applicable laws.’”
“So then we reach out to the Treasury Department,” Carlson added. “Did this really happen? Yeah, it did. They essentially confirmed it: ‘We don’t comment on possible enforcement matters, but the Treasury Department continues to vigorously enforce Russia-related sanctions.’”
Carlson also shared that “Amazon has refused to provide us with a list of the other books they are banning, but they clearly are banning a lot of different books.”
We believe that list began about three years ago.
In 2019, Amazon banned several books by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a renowned psychologist who wrote self-help content for people with unwanted same-sex attraction. Called “the father of conversion therapy” by some, Nicolosi was the co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. While Amazon initially argued that the books did not violate their rules, they eventually banned them after a man named Rojo Alan began a campaign against Amazon and urged others to write negative reviews about the books. Critics of the move noted that Amazon continued to allow several pro-suicide and satanic books on its site.
By early 2021, Amazon had quietly created a ban on books that contained “hate speech”. While this did not apply to Mein Kampf, it became apparent that “hate speech” applied to any content which challenges same-sex attraction or gender disorientation.
That’s why Amazon pulled When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement by Ryan Anderson off its digital shelves in February 2021. According to the sales blurb, the book “exposes the contrast between the media’s sunny depiction of gender fluidity and the often sad reality of living with gender dysphoria.”
In its Content Guidelines for Books, Amazon says “We don’t sell certain content including content that we determine is hate speech . . . or other material we deem inappropriate or offensive.”
Within months, the e-tailer’s digital book burning operation had become smooth and well-oiled. In April 2021 Amazon yanked Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult by Maria Keffler from its platform before it had sold 100 copies or received even a dozen reviews.
By July 2022 Amazon had updated its “hate speech” ban to include “content that appears to infer or claim to diagnose, treat, reverse or question sexual orientation.” The Daily Wire discovered this after Amazon rejected the website’s ads promoting Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman, a book which attempts to find out how promoters of gender disorientation answer the question. The Daily Wire’s Mairead Elordi noted that Amazon continues to carry numerous titles which encourage children to question and reverse their gender, in flagrant violation of Amazon’s rule.
But criticism of gender disorientation isn’t the only prohibited content on Amazon. The mammoth retailer also forbids “content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics.”
That’s what conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation found out when Amazon censored its ads for BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution, a book by one of its researchers criticizing the Black Lives Matter organization.
Amazon notified the foundation that its ad for the book “no longer complies with our current Creative Acceptance Policies. Specifically for the following reasons: Your ad contains book/s or content that is not allowed. Content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics is not permitted. Please remove this content from your ad.”
The Heritage Foundation later successfully appealed the decision and was notified the censoring was the result of “human error.” Sometimes police make mistakes, too.