In Amazon’s view, customers don’t need disclaimers. They just need to read the reviews.
Amazon’s CEO announced the company will not remove the antisemitic movie, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, from its store or include a disclaimer on the site explaining the context of the film’s discriminatory viewpoints. Instead, the company will rely on customer reviews about the movie as a form of content moderation.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy defended the company’s decision by saying that Amazon has hundreds of millions of customers with different viewpoints and that access to those viewpoints must be respected. Hebrews to Negroes shot to the limelight in recent weeks after Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving tweeted out an Amazon link to the film, resulting in his suspension from eight games.
“As a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with a lot of different viewpoints, we have to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable—objectionable and they differ from our particular viewpoints,” Jassy said at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday.
Jassy said that Amazon has “a significant group of people,” as well as a panel, that analyze content on its site and decide whether or not to take it down. Furthermore, he suggested that removing the movie or adding a disclaimer was not an easy decision to make. On the contrary, some decisions are “more straightforward,” the Amazon CEO said, such as taking action on “actively incites or promotes violence or teaches people how to do things like pedophilia.”
Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which is based on a book of the same name, contains a variety of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories such as the claim that Jewish people control the media. It denies that the Holocaust occurred, claims “white” Jews are not “real” Jews, and states that Jewish people dominated the slave trade. All of these assertions are false.
Many organizations condemned Irving’s tweet, including the Anti-Defamation League and the NBA. The Brooklyn Nets, Irving’s team, and its owner Joe Tsai also expressed their disapproval and suspended him from play. Irving later apologized and deleted the tweet. He was suspended by the Nets for his tweet and subsequent actions for eight games, but was given the green light to play again on Nov. 20.
On Wednesday, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, responded to Amazon’s decision to keep the film on its site and criticized it for not including a disclaimer, which he called “the bare minimum.”
“If @amazon insists on selling a film that, among other things, denies the FACT that millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, it’s unconscionable not to do the bare minimum & provide a disclaimer explaining why the film is problematic & antisemitic,” Greenblatt tweeted.
Yet, it seems Jassy had an answer to Greenblatt’s criticism as well. At the Dealbook Summit, he suggested that customer reviews were all the warning necessary for the book and the film.
“The reality is that we have very expansive customer reviews,” Jassy stated. “For books with a lot of attention—especially public attention—customers do a good job of warning other people.”
That depends on what Jassy means by a “good job.” When Gizmodo checked the Amazon page for the Kindle edition of Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America on Thursday morning, the book had an average of 4.5 stars from the 1,798 reviews on the page. Nearly all of the reviews on the first page praised the book. As far as the film goes, it had a 4.4-star rating out of 2,226 reviews. Most of the reviews on the first page were positive.
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