Amazon.com coming under fire for selling white supremacist products and content on its site. Veuer’s Nick Cardona has that story.
Amazon has a stated ban against the sale of racially hateful products, but the online retailer as recently as last month offered dozens of products with hate symbols including kids’ backpacks emblazoned with neo-Nazi symbols, a Swastika necklace, and baby onesies displaying a burning cross, according to a report out Friday from two watchdog groups.
Also available: more than 200 Kindle ebooks from publishers identified as hate organizations by the Southern Poverty Law Center, found the report, entitled “Delivering Hate,” from The Action Center on Race & the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families.
Amazon prohibits the sale of “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views,” according to its policies.
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. “Amazon has a history of responding slowly—or not at all—to public pressure on this front rather than effectively preventing hate groups from using its platforms in the first place.”
The two groups say Amazon’s mammoth size and inaction allows hate groups to “generate revenue, propagate their ideas, and grow their movements.”
In a statement given to USA TODAY, Amazon said, “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.”
In addition to traditional hate symbols such as the swastika and Confederate flag — a symbol the company banned in 2015 — were found, there were also products such as a noose vehicle decal, evoking the lynchings of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era. Many products carried imagery of the cartoon Pepe the Frog, the “newly adopted imagery of the modern white nationalist movement,” the report said.
The cartoon frog, designated by the ADL as a hate symbol in September 2016, could be found on fidget spinners that also had swastikas, and a trio of kids’ backpacks including one with the frog wearing an SS officer hat and another the frog drawn to look like President Donald Trump.
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Not all of these products remain on Amazon.com. For instance, the Pepe the Frog spinners, a flag mimicking the Nazi war flag with the cartoon frog incorporated, German SS officer hat and sword, the baby onesies and some of the Nazi soldier figurines were no longer available Friday.
Many of the 11 bands the report identified as making hate music were no longer found on Amazon’s site and only one (Ian Stuart and Stigger, “Patriotic Ballads: Our Time Will Come”) could be streamed. However, nearly all those bands had music on YouTube, while some also could be found on Spotify and iHeartRadio.
Beyond products, Amazon Web Services also handles the website for ACT for America, considered by the ADL and SPLC as the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the United States, the groups’ report says.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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