Amazon Accused of Censoring Book Reviews

In the age of social media, interacting with our favorite authors has gotten much easier. Using platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, fans can pose direct questions, “like” recent status announcements, and even track where and when authors will hold their next public reading. And yet, even with all these new ways to connect, most fans still aren’t able to sit down at the dinner table with their literary idols.

Amazon, however, is being accused of determining through some sort of mysterious algorithm who is actually well-acquainted in real life. If we’ve interacted with authors online, the Guardian warns us that “Amazon might decide that you’re “friends” and ban you from leaving a review of their latest book.”

In a blog post, indie author Imy Santiago writes of being prevented from leaving a book review on the site because Amazon decided her “account activity indicates that you know the author.” In reality, Santiago only ever interacted with the author online; she considers Amazon’s decision “censorship at its finest.”

In response to the controversy, romance author Jas Ward created a petition which has already garnered 11,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.

Ward acknowledges that social media plays a critical part in promoting the latest works of emerging as well as established authors, and further states: “Your current process of removing reviews that a reader has created to show their honest and sincere opinion on a book is not fair and cripples the review process more than assists.”

Although Amazon’s customer review guidelines understandably ban family members from writing reviews (thanks anyway, Mom and Dad), their process of determining actual friendships is a bit shady. In a response email to Santiago, Amazon wrote: “Due to the proprietary nature of our business, we do not provide detailed information on how we determine that accounts are related.”

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