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Is Amazon doing enough to stop the sale of white supremacist propaganda?

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

White supremacists have long used Amazon Marketplace for third-party sellers to make money. Back in 2015, for instance, the Southern Poverty Law Center found a number of racist products for sale, including music, clothing, and toys. In December of last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that white supremacist groups were using Amazon’s Associates program to fundraise.

Amazon has moved to block these attempts to use its platform; its policies prohibit “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” But a new report from the Action Center on Race & the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families has found that white supremacist paraphernalia is still being sold on Amazon. According to The Washington Post, “shoppers can purchase merchandise displaying symbols of white supremacy, such as a swastika necklace, a baby onesie with a burning cross, and a child’s backpack featuring a neo-Nazi meme.” Dozens of e-books from the neo-Nazi publishing house Counter-Currents were also being sold.

“It’s clear that Amazon is bringing in money by propping up these hate organizations and allowing them to spread these messages in a moment of rising white nationalism and violence,” the Partnership for Working Families’s Mariah Montgomery told the Post. Large tech platforms, most notably Twitter and Facebook, have been dealing with this problem for years. The efforts to remove Nazis and white supremacists from social media platforms have largely been inadequate. Amazon’s problem is of a smaller scale, but it’s still very important. As with Twitter and Facebook, more investment in monitoring the products for sale is necessary. That requires hiring monitors, something that these tech companies are not always eager to do.