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Should Amazon Be Responsible For All of the Content It Sells?

Should Amazon Be Responsible For All the Content It Sells?

By now, you've heard the story of the extremely controversial ebook found on Amazon's site. The book was self-published for the Kindle, and once discovered, it sparked a nationwide outrage, prompting many to call for a complete boycott of Amazon until the title was pulled. Amazon did, eventually, pull that title after initially defending its stance.

While not many people (myself included) believe that this book belongs anywhere, it does raise an interesting question. Initially, Amazon claimed it did not censor its self-published offerings; later, Amazon confirmed the title had been removed but refused to comment on the matter.

For my opinion on the matter — and to share your own — keep reading.

I'm for free speech and the right to self-publish a book, even though I certainly don't support the book in question. I'm not sure I believe it's Amazon's job to police every single title available on its site. It almost seems like a double standard — everyone complains when a site (Apple's iTunes Store, for example) starts imposing rigid rules on people who submit their creative works (in this case, apps), yet when an online retailer allows somewhat open submissions, people are bound to find something offensive.

In this case, the book promoted illegal activity and clearly shouldn't have made it onto the site. But are other titles that may push boundaries or toe the line Amazon's responsibility to monitor? The author's responsibility? Or does it fall on the consumer to distinguish what he or she believes is acceptable?

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sarahinparis sarahinparis 6 years
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 particularly 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, there are a number of things that could be posted - WMD, illegal drugs, children as sex slaves - could they claim they have no responsibility for someone posting those items?? There must be some level of responsibility on Amazon's part - they are profiting from these items after all. Do they really wish to profit (however little) from a book instructing on the sexual abuse of children?? This was not an academic discussion of the issue, or even an argument for normalizing the behavior - it was a how to guide and how to get away with it. It is highly possible that this item would not be granted free speech protection anyway - you do not have free speech protection for speech that will endanger others - for example, hate speech is not protected. Unlike other controversial sexual behaviors, child abuse ALWAYS has a participate that cannot possible give their informed consent - and therefore, ALWAYS has a victim. So this particular item would likely not be protected since it advocated for the victimization of a particular group.
sarahinparis sarahinparis 6 years
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 particularly 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, there are a number of things that could be posted - WMD, illegal drugs, children as sex slaves - could they claim they have no responsibility for someone posting those items?? There must be some level of responsibility on Amazon's part - they are profiting from these items after all. Do they really wish to profit (however little) from a book instructing on the sexual abuse of children?? This was not an academic discussion of the issue, or even an argument for normalizing the behavior - it was a how to guide and how to get away with it. It is highly possible that this item would not be granted free speech protection anyway - you do not have free speech protection for speech that will endanger others - for example, hate speech is not protected. Unlike other controversial sexual behaviors, child abuse ALWAYS has a participate that cannot possible give their informed consent - and therefore, ALWAYS has a victim. So this particular item would likely not be protected since it advocated for the victimization of a particular group.
Elfyn Elfyn 6 years
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.For what it's worth, I believe that Amazon made the right decision to no longer offer this sick, twisted, putrid book for sale on it's website.
Elfyn Elfyn 6 years
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. For what it's worth, I believe that Amazon made the right decision to no longer offer this sick, twisted, putrid book for sale on it's website.
icwilson icwilson 6 years
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. Pedophilia has no redeeming qualities; it's harmful in every single respect - morally wrong and illegal. This whole fiasco should have never happened - period.
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