Internet mega-retailer Amazon appears to have quietly updated an internal rule, Just the News reports, eliminating an exemption for books and periodicals from its site-wide policy against selling items that contain or promote “hate speech.”
The rule change might have gone unnoticed except that a conservative author posted on social media that Amazon had ended its own sales of his book on transgenderism and barred third parties from selling the work.
“Sometime before this week, when it removed from its digital shelves a book critical of transgender ideology, Amazon altered its content policy to explicitly forbid books that promote ‘hate speech,’ a major rule change that could be used to rationalize action against a broader range of books sold by the digital retail giant,” Just the News noted.
“Amazon this week yanked ‘When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement’ from its main web store, its Kindle servers, and its audiobook lineup with no explanation, even as the book had been available on the site for three years with no apparent controversy,” the outlet added.
The policy, under which “When Harry Became Sally” was booted, now reads, “We don’t sell certain content including content that we determine is hate speech.”
The Washington Free Beacon also reported that the rule change appears inconsistent across Amazon’s seller guidelines, suggesting that the change was recent and that Amazon has yet to bring the full site into compliance.
“The company’s content guidelines previously contained no mention of hate speech,” the Free Beacon noted. “In an apparent contradiction, Amazon’s ‘Seller Central‘ page on ‘offensive and controversial materials’ currently exempts books from bans on other products that ‘promote hatred.'”
Amazon has long since banned products that feature elements of “hate speech,” have even a tangential relation to “hate groups,” or which “promote hatred.” It also bans third-party retailers who use Amazon’s platform to sell their wares from selling items that feature or are associated with “hate speech.”
Books and other publications, though, were exempted from the ban, and “Internet archives show that as recently as August of last year, Amazon’s book content policy did not include any mention of ‘hate speech,'” per Just the News. “At that time, the company stated only that ‘we reserve the right not to sell certain content, such as pornography or other inappropriate content.'”
A further inquiry into older versions of Amazon’s policy seemed to show that it, at one time, included a provision against items that “incite, promote, or glorify hatred,” but Just the News added that that version of the rule “explicitly noted that the policy did not apply to books.”
The Free Beacon said that while Ryan T. Anderson, who wrote “When Harry Became Sally,” received no explanation for why his book was pulled, Amazon does now seem to say it “moderates” its book content.
“Amazon says it moderates book content using ‘a combination of machine learning, automation, and dedicated teams of human reviewers. We’ll remove content that does not adhere to these guidelines and promptly investigate any book when notified of potential noncompliance. If we remove a title, we let the author, publisher, or selling partner know and they can appeal our decision.'”