Amazon criticized for selling products white supremacy, racist items

A new report reveals Amazon is making money from ‘delivering hate to the world

Many of those products were removed on Friday. The products included ones that children use like a meme and backpack. The policy states that any items promoting or glorifying "hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance" or promoting "organizations with such views" are banned from its platform.

But the watchdog groups charge that Amazon "has been reactive, not proactive, in its response to use of its site by peddlers of hate", their report says.

The report, authored by the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE) and the Partnership for Working Families, discovered numerous examples [pdf, p21-30] of Nazi and alt-right-themed products, Kindle books, and music on the storefront. "And they continue to have a policy but not enforce it", she said.

According to the report, items for sale [pdf, p21-30] on the Amazon storefront include Nazi-themed paraphernalia like swastika jewellery, 'Totenkopf' decorations, and cross-burning baby onesies.

The report comes some five months after Amazon reported a record $3 billion profit in 2017.

In the analysis, first reported by The Washington Post, the groups accuse Amazon of becoming a "platform for openly racist writers, musicians, and activists including some who advocate for violence against Black people, Muslims, Jewish people, and LGBTQ people". Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso told Engadget that: "Third-party sellers who use our Marketplace service must follow our guidelines, and those who don't are subject to swift action, including potential removal of their account".

"Amazon has enabled hate organizations and ideologues to spread their ideas and generate resources to support their operations, and Amazon itself gets a cut of this revenue", the paper reads. "Amazon must take a public stand against hate and violence, and take action to ensure that it is not profiting from hate or enabling others to profit from hate". Many products carried imagery of the cartoon Pepe the Frog, the "newly adopted imagery of the modern white nationalist movement", the report said.

In 2015, Amazon said it was pulling down Confederate flag merchandise after white supremacist Dylann Ruff killed nine people - all African Americans - at a church in Charleston, S.C. In photos, he had posed with symbols of white supremacy and neo-Nazism, including the flag.

Amazon has responded to public pressure in particular instances and for particular parts of its empire, but has failed to create internal systems that effectively prevent hate groups from using its platforms to propagate their ideas or that stop the spread of hate symbols via its online store. Amazon has said it is now purging hate products.

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