WASHINGTON—Earlier this week, The Heritage Foundation was informed that Amazon would not support paid promotion of Heritage Senior Fellow Mike Gonzalez’s exposé on the Black Lives Matter movement, “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution.” Amazon declared promotion of the book “no longer complies with our current Creative Acceptance Policies” because it “contains book/s or content that is not allowed. Content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics is not permitted.” In other words, Heritage viewpoints were effectively being censored.
Heritage appealed the decision earlier this week, giving Amazon well beyond its own stated response time before issuing a forceful statement Thursday morning. Amazon subsequently reversed its decision and will allow paid promotion of Gonzalez’s book to move forward. Importantly, an Amazon spokesperson told The Daily Signal’s Fred Lucas that the original decision banning promotion was the result of human error, not an automated decision by a computer or algorithm.
Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James said:
“While we appreciate Amazon reversing this egregious decision, this incident is consistent with the trend of Big Tech companies to suppress conservative speech they disagree with. That’s why The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Technology Policy continues to monitor Big Tech companies and recommend legislative and regulatory solutions to ensure that they are held accountable when they unfairly suppress speech, especially speech that encourages healthy debate on the critical issues that America faces.
“Amazon’s original stated reason for suspending the ad included that it does not allow ‘content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics.’ Using that standard, one of the world’s largest booksellers apparently wouldn’t allow ads for the biggest bestseller in history—the Bible.”
Kara Frederick, research fellow in Heritage’s Center for Technology Policy, released the following statement upon learning of Amazon’s reversal:
“This episode is a reminder that while sometimes Big Tech can be pressured to respond in certain cases of wrongdoing, there are so many more instances where those without the resources or large-enough public profile simply have to live with the arbitrary decisions made by these companies. The fact that this was the result of human error further demonstrates the need for Big Tech companies to establish clear, sensible, and consistent rules and policies, and then implement those rules and policies fairly across the board. They also must be willing to publicly admit mistakes when they do occur, whether intentional or not. Big Tech’s influence over everyday American life continues to grow. It’s vital that we establish clear standards for how these companies behave, and mechanisms to hold them accountable when they don’t.”