After WND’s story Thursday exposing Amazon.com’s banning of one of its top 500 reviewers for “bias” for a post recommending a new Bible book, the mega-retailer quickly reversed its decision, reinstating hundreds of the Christian reviewer’s previous posts.
Weeks after posting a 5-star rave of a new Bible book, Amazon.com banned this week one of its top 500 reviewers for “bias,” without further explanation and pulling more than 600 of his previous postings dating back to 2013.
The last book William Struse reviewed for Amazon was Joseph Farah’s highly acclaimed “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament,” which has been called a “breakthrough Bible book,” released in a preview e-book version exclusively on Amazon Kindle and the WND Superstore before its scheduled hardcover debut in September.
Following an attempt to repost his glowing review, Struse received only this message from Amazon: “Sorry, we are unable to accept your review of this product. Your previous review of this product did not comply with our Customer Reviews Guidelines. Amazon does not permit reviews from customers whose relationship to the product or seller may be perceived as biased.”
But, by early Thursday morning, Struse received an email apology from Amazon: “We have reviewed this situation and have restored your review privileges to our site. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.” It is unclear whether he will be reinstated as a “top 500 reviewer” – a status it took years to achieve.
Nevertheless, Farah sees the pulling of the review – along with all of Struse’s previous posts on Amazon – as evidence of anti-Christian religious bias on the part of the giant retailer, an accusation others have lodged recently.
“While I’m delighted that Amazon is still responsive to public opinion, there’s something very strange and disturbing there,” said Farah. “I do not believe this is some innocent misunderstanding or glitch. There’s a pattern developing, and I believe it is associated with Amazon’s partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a stridently anti-Christian, anti-conservative, leftist extremist organization that not only provides content guidance to Amazon, but also to Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – in other words, the entire Internet Cartel that is imposing its own cultural, spiritual and political worldview on online communications. This is just the latest example of many.”
Farah cites, as such an example, the Amazon Smile program that allows customers to donate a tiny fraction of their purchases to charities of their choice.
Recently, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has won seven cases at the U.S. Supreme Court in the last seven years in defense of religious and civil rights, said it has been dropped from the Smile program because it has been labeled by the SPLC as a “hate group” for defending traditional marriage. ADF charged SPLC “exploits the terms ‘hate’ and ‘hate group’ against any organization it disagrees with.” SPLC’s hate list also was used by the charity-information site GuideStar, prompting lawsuits. The SPLC famously labeled Christian pediatric brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson, a former presidential candidate and currently serving as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as an “extremist.” The SPLC was also directly tied to domestic terrorism through Floyd Lee Corkins, who confessed to FBI agents that he relied on the SPLC’s “hate map” to target the Family Research Council with a mass-murder attempt at the Christian organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. SPLC also was reprimanded by the administration of former President Barack Obama, and the Department of Defense and FBI have severed ties to the group.
The Internet Cartel of Amazon, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook is at war with the independent media – especially the tip of the spear, WND, the first of the independent online newsgathering media. If you would like to support our battle to survive in the face of overwhelming opposition from these monopolistic mega-corporations, you can do so through your direct contributions.
In a letter of protest to Amazon, the ADF wrote: “It you are going to rely on a discredited partisan organization like the SPLC to determine who is eligible to participate in Amazon Smile, you should disclose that in your policy and to your customers.” ADF added, “Millions of Americans share our beliefs and thousands of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious organizations subscribe to them as well. … We want to secure the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for every American. That’s why we defend people from many backgrounds and from many different walks of life, including artists, healthcare professionals, and university students.”
By contrast, the ADF told Amazon, the SPLC “would prefer to silence all opposing views, ridding the public square of civil discourse.”
“SPLC is not a neutral watchdog organization,” said Michael Farris, chief executive officer and chief counsel for ADF. “Instead, it raises money by slandering people and organizations who disagree with its views. ADF is one of the nation’s most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates, working to preserve our fundamental freedoms of speech, religion, and conscience for people from all walks of life. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Amazon representatives to explain why they shouldn’t exclude us from the Amazon Smile program.”
Farah also points out that Amazon recently has been slow to request restocking of WND’s Christian movies and books, preferring to place “out of stock” messages on sell pages for weeks at a time, negatively affecting sales of such books. Amazon currently controls about 50 percent of the book market in North America and a growing percentage globally. It is now in a position, Farah says, to “kill books and movies it doesn’t like. You might say this would be contrary to Amazon’s own financial interests, but to Amazon, which is rapidly approaching monopoly status in e-commerce sales across the board, these revenues would amount to small potatoes. For a small, independent Christin-oriented company like WND, however, it is financially devastating.”
As for Struse, he is delighted that his posts have been reinstated.
His prime motivations for submitting reviews to Amazon since 2013 has been to keep current on biblical subjects of special interest to him, to sharpen his writing skills by taking on complicated subject matter and distilling it in concise fashion.
In 2014, he achieved a top 1,000 reviewer ranking at Amazon and last year reached the top 500 reviewer ranking on Amazon.
But, last month, on June 10, he posted his 5-star review of “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament.” Last week, however, not only was that review pulled by Amazon, but so were all 622 others posted over the last five years.
“Just to see what would happen I tried writing a new test review of the Gospel book and I got the message about non-compliance with Amazon’s customer review guidelines,” he told WND. “To be clear, I have not written any book reviews or product reviews for compensation of any kind. A year or two ago, when Amazon still allowed it, I did write some reviews of free products, but I clearly stated that in the reviews as required by Amazon. Maybe it’s time to move on, but I’d just like to know, after all these years and over 600 reviews, what I did that provoked such drastic action on their part.”
As for the matter of bias, Struse and Farah both agree, it’s in the eye of the beholder.
“The idea that book reviews are non-biased is ridiculous, absurd, patently irrational,” says Farah. “Book reviews are totally, 100 percent subjective, not objective. That’s the very nature of reviews. They represent someone’s personal opinion – just like a commentary. And when Amazon makes a decision to remove five years of book reviews in a sweeping action of this kind, that decision is clearly based on personal or corporate opinion that is a reflection of someone’s bias that cannot be measured or quantified. That Amazon thinks the SPLC is an unbiased resource to turn to on matters of content, that pretty much tells you all you need to know about the company’s corporate culture.”
Farah says there is something just plain wrong within the corporate culture of Amazon and what he calls “the Silicon Valley Cartel.”
“There’s a quiet war being waged by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube against the independent media, voices of political incorrectness, plainspoken Christian orthodoxy and conservative views,” says Farah. “It’s a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners conflict. It’s not going to stop without challenge, without oversight, without major pressure or action from government. These institutions have become so powerful it threatens our heritage of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion. There needs to be accountability for this emerging cartel or the First Amendment will have no meaning in a future of digital communications controlled by a handful of mega-corporations that all employ patently extremist, narrow-minded content cops like the SPLC.”
It’s not the first time WND’s exposés have resulted in reversals by companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and YouTube.
“But, the biggest reversal I would like to see by all of them is for them to break their cozy relationship with the SPLC – a dangerous, extremist, hard-core leftist group at war with Christians, conservatives, Republicans and anyone else who disagrees with their warped views,” Farah said.
If you would like to support WND’s “breakthrough Bible book,” you can make tax-deductible donations to support “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament,” through the non-profit missions organization, Gospel for All Nations. The book has received enthusiastic endorsements from Christian leaders and luminaries including Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee, Greg Laurie, Eric Metaxas, Ben Kinchlow, Jack Van Impe, Ray Comfort, Chuck Norris, Pat Boone and dozens of others.
Support WND in its battle for survival as the pioneering online independent media organization of 21 years against the furious campaign of political correctness by Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and now Amazon – all of whom worship at the altar of the anti-Christian purveyors of hate and extremism at the Southern Poverty Law Center.