The stand against racism continues to build as a BBC investigation found racist products being sold on e-commerce giants Amazon, Google, and Wish.
What the BBC uncovered during their investigation was extensive. White-supremacist flags, Neo-Nazi books, and Klu Klux Klan items; all of these materials were found for sale on all three web sites. Not only were these items found for sale there, but more disturbingly the algorithms for both Amazon and Wish would link potential buyers to other racist products.
Demos, an organization with a landing page referring to themselves as “a dynamic think-and-do tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy” called out the tech giants saying: “It often takes human investigation to work out that people are being led down this path.” This came from Demos’ senior researcher and Chief Technical Officer Josh Smith.
One of the items found was a Celtic Cross flag that has been used to symbolize white supremacists. A savvy reviewer posted “This is a neo-Nazi flag. Amazon should not be profiting from this.” And while most were sickened by the items, there were also those who were sick enough to post comments such as this, saying the flag would be “good for use in parades” and then had the balls enough to thank Amazon for “making it happen.”
Amazon’s algorithm also pointed potential purchasers to another symbol, one that was worn by the Christchurch gunman who killed 51 people in 2019. Other items pulled down were a burning rainbow flag and a KKK hood. There were also items relating to the Boogaloo (a libertarian militia) movement that was found for sale but subsequently removed.
According to the BBC investigation, all three tech giants have stated categorically that these items are not allowed on their pages. Amazon’s response to these items was, “The products in question are no longer available and we’ve taken action on the bad actors that offered the products and violated our policies.” Google echoed Amazon’s sentiments by telling the BBC investigators that they do not allow products or ads that “display shocking content or promote hatred.” Hmm, funny these things were found on their website.
Wish was asked by Digital Trend and responded in kind. “Wish strictly prohibits the listing of products that glorify or endorse hatred towards others. We are working hard to remove these items and taking additional steps to prevent such items appearing again,” a spokesperson said. “We encourage members of the public to report any offensive or inappropriate listings to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
OTHER PLATFORMS MOVE TO BAN RACISM
Amazon, Google, and Wish are not the only social media platforms coming under fire. Two other social media giants are also feeling the heat. Facebook and Instagram are now having to look into their own algorithms in an effort to make their platforms “safe and fair” for all users. According to Instagram’s VP of product Vishal Shah, “The racial justice movement is a moment of real significance for our company. Any bias in our systems and policies run counter to providing a platform for everyone to express themselves. While we’re always working to create a more equitable experience, we are setting up additional efforts to continue this progress.”
Facebook has set up an Inclusive Product Council that plans to details how both companies will work to combat this issue in the coming months.
This is a fight that needs to happen and these companies need to remain diligent on this front. Pulling racist material is nothing but a positive for all.