Under the guise of concern for the book readers’ ability to navigate available information about the coronavirus pandemic, more media pressure is mounting on Amazon, that controls a huge chunk of the online market – to start banning more books.
And while Amazon is already, and very controversially from the point of view of free speech supporters, banning some books, other types of activists and their media outlets clearly think that should only be the beginning.
Websites like Buzzfeed are pushing for book banning as a “solution” to what they see as Covid conspiracies, equating at the same time the status of books and their availability and censorship, to content found on social networks.
To this point, the site observes that a book about Covid authored by David Icke, The Answer, is doing very well on Amazon – despite the fact he has been deplatformed by all major corporate giant social platforms.
The report, that blames Amazon of “doing the least” to censor content, is based on a research effort co-led by University of Amsterdam’s Marc Tuters.
Amazon is criticized for not taking a leaf out of Google’s, Facebook’s, and Twitter’s book in tweaking its algorithms to recommend what is often non-transparently and sometimes dubiously decreed to be “authoritative” or “trustworthy” content and sources.
Over on Amazon, meanwhile, searching for terms like “Covid” or “vaccine” seems to still produce somewhat organic results – ranked according to popularity determined by customers who buy and review these books.
For now, Amazon is bowing down to pressure by putting links to sites of organizations like the WHO and the CDC at the top of search result pages (even though people are searching not for “WHO” or “CDC,” but for “Covid” or “vaccine.”) However, the retail giant is still criticized for not applying this feature evenly across all markets around the world.
So far, Amazon has banned books dealing with topics like transgenderism, while consistently failing to provide details about the process – why and how it decides that a book is violating the already vaguely defined “offensive content,” mentioned in its guidelines for publishing books.