WASHINGTON—The Daily Signal, news outlet of The Heritage Foundation, released a new documentary Monday showing the very real consequences of Big Tech censorship.
The documentary, “The Book Amazon Doesn’t Want You to Read,” focuses on the experience of Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former Heritage Foundation senior research fellow. In 2018, Anderson published a book titled, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment,” an insightful look at the transgender debate that provided public policy solutions and perspectives from individuals who had “transitioned” at one point in their lives, only to experience regret later.
For three years, Anderson’s book was available on several book-selling websites, including retail giant Amazon. Then, last February, the book disappeared from Amazon’s virtual shelves. When asked, a representative of the company informed Anderson it had removed his book because it supposedly violated Amazon’s content policy.
By refusing to sell the book, Amazon is not silencing voices with whom it disagrees, but it is also “harming people with gender dysphoria who aren’t getting some of the knowledge that they need,” says Anderson.
“You wouldn’t want to be experiencing gender dysphoria, but if you were experiencing it, you would want someone to be giving you authentic, compassionate guidance, and compassion detached from truth isn’t authentic,” he says.
Heritage’s Kara Frederick, a former Facebook employee who stood up the company’s Global Security Counterterrorism Analysis Program and is now a research fellow in Heritage’s Center for Technology Policy, has noted the growing trend of Big Tech censorship, and how that censorship often runs in one particular ideological direction.
Twitter and Facebook, Frederick recently told a congressional committee, censor Republican members of Congress at a rate approximately 53 times greater than Democrats.
Heritage has also been a recent victim of Amazon censorship. On Sept. 7, 2021, Heritage senior fellow Mike Gonzalez published a book titled, “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution,” a deep-dive on the Black Lives Matter leaders and organizations.
Shortly after publication, Heritage was informed that an ad it had submitted to Amazon to help promote Gonzalez’s book “no longer complies with our current Creative Acceptance Policies. Specifically for the following reasons: Your ad contains book/s or content that is not allowed. Content that revolves around controversial or highly debated social topics is not permitted.” Heritage appealed the decision, and after putting public pressure on Amazon, won a reversal.
However, as Frederick said at the time, “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. … It’s vital that we establish clear standards for how these companies behave, and mechanisms to hold them accountable when they don’t.”
Anderson believes that Amazon’s actions reveal a deeper fear on the far left—that they “might lose on the transgender issue,” and that they “might not be on the ‘right side of history’—that we might have truth on our side.”