Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is urging Amazon to remove books and other products that spread “COVID-19 misinformation” from its online marketplace.
Warren identified a variety of products that are among the top results when consumers search for certain items and books about COVID-19 in a letter sent Tuesday to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. The products promote “false and misleading” conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, Warren alleges in the letter.
“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 writes, adding:
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 product recommendations were repeatedly products that spread misinformation, Warren told Jassy in the letter.
The top results were often books based on “falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and cures.”
The book “The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing the Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal,” a bestseller on the massive online marketplace written by Joseph Mercola and Ronnie Cummins, is consistently a top Amazon search result, Warren says. 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 writes.
In the letter, Warren also criticizes Amazon’s promotion of several other books that advocate unproven coronavirus cures, including four written by Alex Berenson, who has shared information countering mainstream opinion throughout the pandemic. In August, Twitter suspended Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, 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 concludes 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 asks Jassy to respond to her questions by Sept. 22.
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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