Amazon has been caught deleting negative reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened,” which details her humiliating loss to President Trump in the 2016 election.
The book, which was released last Tuesday, quickly accumulated hundreds of negative “one star” reviews from readers displeased with the work. By last Wednesday, Amazon users submitted nearly 1,700 reviews with half of them being “one star.”
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), the book’s publisher at Simon & Schuster, Jonathan Karp, expressed skepticism that all the negative reviews were from verified purchasers. He conjectured, “It seems highly unlikely that approximately 1,500 people read Hillary Clinton’s book overnight and came to the stark conclusion that it is either brilliant or awful.”
Seemingly in response to Karp’s complaint, Amazon took it upon themselves to scrub nearly all of the negative reviews, until only a small fraction remained. Amazon attempted to justify their actions to told TheGuardian, claiming that they “remove customer reviews that violate our community guidelines,” including when “when we find unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time, we may restrict the number of non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews on that product.”
In a statement emailed to PBS NewsHour, an Amazon spokesperson expressed, “We never suppress reviews based on star rating or sentiment. We have triggers in place to detect when numerous reviews post in a short amount of time that are unrelated to the product.”
It should be noted that, even if this is a tool that Amazon has the rightful ability to utilize at its discretion, in this instance, it was deployed decisively to benefit Hillary Clinton alone and to give her better PR for her new book.
TheBlaze also asked Amazon for further clarification of their seemingly pro-Clinton policy, to which an Amazon spokesperson responded, “We are not deleting negative reviews. We have triggers in place to suppress reviews when the voices of many are drowning out the voices of a few. When these triggers are activated, we suppress ALL non-AVP (Amazon Verified Purchase) reviews on the product. In this case, people that actually bought the book and have an AVP badge are more likely to review the book favorably than people that did not buy the book.”
The Amazon representative also shed light on the company’s role as gatekeeper of review information, “In the case of a memoir, the subject of the book is the author and their views. It’s not our role to decide what a customer would view as helpful or unhelpful in making their decision. We do however have mechanisms in place to ensure that the voices of many do not drown out the voices of a few and we remove customer reviews that violate our Community Guidelines.”