Global e-commerce giant Amazon has begun the process of removing items that contain or have an association with Nazi and white supremacist symbols from its website.
The move by Amazon follows a series of complaints from lawmakers and a 24 page in depth report from two racial equality advocacy groups.
The story didn’t really become news however until US Democratic congressman Keith Ellison wrote a stinging letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earlier this month:
“I would like to know whether Amazon is committed to ceasing the sale of all products that promote hateful and racist ideologies,” the letter reads. “For a company with a policy prohibiting the sale of ‘products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views,’ there appear to be a disturbing number of groups with hateful, racist, and violent agendas making money using Amazon’s platform.”
The issue surrounding Amazon selling Nazi themed goods first gained prominence after two advocacy groups, Action Centre on Race and the Economy and Partnership for Working Families, published a 24-page document listing much of Nazi paraphernalia available to buy on Amazon.
Items for sale included stickers with Nazi imagery, swastika pendants, German SS hats, and baby onesies with burning cross emblems.
Amazon has now said it has blocked the sellers, and removed most of the items that were listed by the advocacy groups. The company has also said it has enlisted the aid of Artificial Intelligence software alongside humans to search for other Nazi themed products.
Brian Huseman, Vice-President of Amazon’s public policy, said in response to the complaint that Amazon “prohibits listing products that promote or glorify hatred, violence or intolerance” and also said that most of the goods that Ellison noted in his letter of complaint to the company had been removed before the company received the letter.
Amazon have also stated that while some of the merchandise was still indeed left in Amazon warehouses, the company is in the process of removing the products, and that they were no longer for sale. The real question though is why Nazi themed products made it onto the Amazon Store in the first place.