American senator Elizabeth Warren has accused Amazon of “peddling misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines and treatments” through its search algorithms, promoting a book called “the most influential spreader of coronavirus misinformation online” by media outlets.
“I write regarding concerns that Amazon is peddling misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments through its search and ‘Best Seller’ algorithms,” the Massachusetts Senator began in her letter, which has been released.
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“This is the second time in six months that I have identified Amazon practices that mislead consumers about COVID-19 prevention or treatment: earlier this year, I wrote regarding concerns that the company is providing consumers with false and misleading information about FDA-authorized KN95 masks.1 This pattern and practice of misbehavior suggests that Amazon is either unwilling or unable to modify its business practices to prevent the spread of falsehoods or the sale of
inappropriate products—an unethical, unacceptable, and potentially unlawful course of action from one of the nation’s largest retailers.
The book in questions is Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins’s “The Truth About Covid-19,” a title that claims to reveal how the “effectiveness of the vaccines has been wildly exaggerated”, how the virus was lab-engineered in Wuhan, and how “safe, simple, and inexpensive treatment and prevention for Covid-19 have been censored and suppressed to create a clear path for vaccine acceptance”
“On the heels of the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine2 and amidst the rapid spread of the Delta variant, it is vital that Americans have access to accurate information about COVID-19 prevention and treatment—and about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in particular. 3 The highly infectious Delta variant is now responsible for over 90% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States,4 leading to surges in hospitalizations and deaths.”
Democrat California Rep. Adam Schiff joined the call for censorship: “Amazon is directly profiting from the sensationalism of anti-vaccine misinformation, while these conspiracy theories continue to directly contribute to Covid-19 deaths.”
In a statement, Amazon told NPR that “we are constantly evaluating the books we list to ensure they comply with our content guidelines, and as an additional service to customers, at the top of relevant search results pages we link to the CDC advice on Covid and protection measures.”
Earlier this year, Amazon stopped selling books that frame gay, lesbian, transgender and other sexual and gender identities as mental illness, while saying that “we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”