Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren urged Amazon to remove books and other products that spread “COVID-19 misinformation” from its online marketplace.
The products promote “false and misleading” conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, Warren alleged.
“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,” Warren wrote.
“On the heels of the [Food and Drug Administration’s] full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 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.”
Warren’s staff conducted numerous searches using coronavirus terms on the Amazon marketplace during the week of Aug. 22.
Among the recommendations were repeatedly products that spread misinformation, Warren told Jassy.
The top results were often books based on “falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and cures.”
“The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal,” a best-seller on the massive online marketplace written by Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins, is consistently a top Amazon search result, according to the Massachusetts senator.
She said the book perpetuates dangerous conspiracies about coronavirus vaccines.
“It asserts that vitamin C, vitamin D, and quercetin — supplements sold on Mercola’s website — can prevent COVID-19 infection, a claim with such little scientific basis that the FDA sent a letter instructing Mercola to cease selling these supplements for the unapproved and unauthorized treatment of COVID-19,” Warren wrote.
Warren also criticized Amazon’s promotion of several other books that advocate for unproven coronavirus cures, including four written by Alex Berenson, who has shared information countering mainstream opinion throughout the pandemic.
In August, Twitter suspended Berenson from its platform for allegedly spreading misinformation.
Amazon briefly banned one of Berenson’s books last year over potential violations of the company’s guidelines, The Washington Post reported.
Warren concluded her letter by applauding Amazon for its previous actions banning “books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness” and asked Jassy to answer a series of questions about its policies on preventing coronavirus misinformation. She asked Jassy to respond to her questions by Sept. 22.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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