Amazon ‘tried to sell me race-hate books’
THE ONLINE bookseller Amazon. co.uk has been accused of recommending that users buy antisemitic works.
Malcolm McAdam, a JC reader, used the website to search for works about the Arab-Israeli conflict by authors such as Ilan Pappe, an arch-critic of Israel.
But when he later returned to the site, he says he was “appalled and deeply offended” to find that the automatic recommendation software had suggested a number of offensive titles.
They included the notorious antisemitic hoax, Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, albeit with a note of explanation attached, Mr McAdam said.
“The offensive assumption behind these recommendations appears to be that people who read serious books critical of Israel, and its supporters, are just crude antisemites,” Mr McAdam said.
“While I respect Amazon’s desire to offer a complete range of titles, it should at least do so with a degree of r e s ponsibili t y a nd provide disclaimers.”
An Amazon spokesman said that the recommendation system was based on the purchases of other customers who had browsed certain titles. It should not be interpreted as a sign of recommendation from the company itself.
“ Amazon believes in freedom of speech and does not believe it has the right to censor people’s reading,” he said.
“Therefore, our selection includes some titles which many people may find distasteful or otherwise objectionable.
“We believe it is censorship to make a book unavailable to our customers [even if] we believe its message to be repugnant. If a book is legal, we will stock it. ”