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Should Amazon Censor the Content It Sells?

Reader Redux: Is Amazon Responsible For the Content It Sells?

Last week, a huge controversy hit Amazon when a tasteless and potentially dangerous book was discovered among its self-published works for the Kindle. At first Amazon did not pull the title, issuing a statement that it doesn't censor any titles. Then, after a proposed boycott and much negative press (and perhaps another review of the material in question), the title was removed from the store.

I shared my views on the matter; after the break, a sampling of some of your passionate responses:

  • "I don't believe it is possible for Amazon to be responsible for ALL the content it sells, BUT, Amazon is responsible for what it chooses to self-publish." — icwilson

  • "I am against censorship of any kind, whether or not I agree with/condone the subject matter. I don't want the government, Amazon or anyone else telling me what I can or cannot read or say. It is not up to Amazon to be the censor of everything they sell. That would be an impossible task. By the way, Amazon did not self publish this offensive book, the author did.

    On the other hand, Amazon is a business and they can decide what they want to sell or not sell. After a huge outcry from their customers, Amazon chose to no longer offer the book for sale as is their right as a business. This was a business decision and is not the same thing as censorship or banning a book." — Elfyn

  • "It is fairly easy for Amazon to set up an algorithm that would flag and hold items for review. These items could be screened and then posted. This particular item was WAY off the charts. As a private company, they can choose what to sell and do not have a constitutional responsibility to protect everyone's speech. They do have a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen. It makes me wonder what else someone could post." — sarahinparis

  • "Amazon released a comment when the controversy started (before the book was removed) that said they didn't support censorship but also didn't 'support or promote hatred or criminal acts'. Their own comment explains why the book needed to be removed. A how-to book for a criminal act shouldn't be published." — Staar84

Censorship online in any form is a hot topic right now and will likely only become more intense. One of the most exciting qualities of the Internet is its ability to provide just about any information you'd ever need. Sadly, it's also one of its worst.

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