According to a new report by two watchdog groups, the e-commerce hub has become a handy resource for extremist children toys.
A new report reveals that Amazon is being used to sell extremist toys for children, which include anti-Semitic children’s books and alt-right iconography like Pepe the Frog. The report goes on to detail how Amazon’s many platforms—Kindle, Amazon Music, and their charity donation site AmazonSmile—are being used disseminate extremist propaganda.
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Amazon has slipped under the radar when it comes to being held to account for their own anti-hate speech policies. The report, entitled Delivering Hate was compiled by two watchdog groups, The Action Center on Race & the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families. It outlines just how weak Amazon is enforcing its own policies. “Either Amazon does not find the materials outlined in this report offensive or it does not enforce its own policies,” its authors write.
The Anti-Defamation League recently published a report stating that, last year alone, white Supremacist propaganda on college campuses nearly doubled, and ISIS’s strategy for recruiting people via social media and video content is widely regarded as the catalyst for the group’s success online. What’s more troubling is the volume of merchandise that’s both being created for and sold to young consumers. In 2016, Business Insider noted that 40 percent of American teenagers say they prefer to shop at Amazon.
Chloe Colliver, a project manager at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, a counter-extremist think tank, said she’s concerned about rising trends of normalizing racist beliefs from a young age. “On the Islamist side, we see Daesh [ISIS] producing children’s books, video games that build-in the racist, extremist worldview that they wish to promote in a whole generation of young people who have been displaced.” According to Colliver, these groups have made the youth a priority in their recruitment efforts. “So much of the current pattern of recruitment attempts from far-right groups in the U.S. and Europe rely on targeting young people, particularly those who might be vulnerable to exploitation.”
Colliver added that vulnerable children, such as those with autism, are increasingly recruited via the internet. “Overall, while our world has become increasingly digital, the education sector hasn’t kept pace with that change and the digital citizenship and resilience skills of young people are seriously lacking considering the range of threats that they face online.”
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Amazon appeared to have removed many of the items identified in the report. Still, a few Nazi relics managed to slip through the cracks, including a sword with Nazi symbols.