Bokhari: GOP Lawmakers Shouldn’t Let Amazon Off the Hook for Censorship

Jeff Bezos
AFP Photo/Alex Wong

Amazon founder and CEO (and owner of the far-left Washington Post) Jeff Bezos is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week, alongside the heads of Google, Facebook and Apple, over growing antitrust concerns about the tech giants.

Republican lawmakers — at least those Republican lawmakers who haven’t been bought and paid for by the tech giants — also have another pressing concern, one that their base won’t let them ignore: political censorship.

The tech giants don’t just manipulate their platforms to exclude commercial competitors; they exclude ideological ones as well. Much of the focus in this regard has been on Facebook, Twitter and Google — but Amazon, the world’s dominant online retailer, has also, to use Google’s terminology, “shifted towards censorship.”

The tech giant is a digital book-burner, censoring books it considers to be too politically controversial, including criticism of Islam.

It also suppresses political documentaries, banning part one and part two of Killing Free Speech, a documentary that examines the rise of Big Tech censorship among other topics. In doing so, Amazon clearly proved the documentary’s concerns to be valid — but the tech giant doesn’t care. It’s too big to fail.

Amazon also censored Hoaxed, the wildly popular documentary from journalist, author and filmmaker Mike Cernovich. It was another brazen act of censoring its critics. The documentary’s topic is media manipulation, and one of its targets is the Washington Post — owned by Jeff Bezos.

Brazenness is the key word. Consumers may despise censorship, but what are they going to do, go back to local stores and Barnes & Noble? In the middle of a pandemic? If you hear Republicans talking about how the “free market” will fix any wrongdoing from Amazon, tune them out — they’re probably in the pay of Big Tech. Bezos is more powerful than any 19th-century oligarch, whose excesses led to the original antitrust laws.

Like other tech giants, Amazon used the coronavirus to extend its content controls. It censored and then reinstated two books from dissident thinkers about the pandemic, one from former New York Times writer and lockdown critic Alex Berenson, and another from Canadian conservative Ezra Levant, criticizing the Trudeau government’s response to the pandemic.

With the platform enjoying a dominant and rapidly increasing share of the online retail market, all independent authors, documentary producers, business owners, and consumers should be worried.

But Amazon’s bigger competitors have cause for alarm too. HBO Max, a streaming rival to Amazon Prime, is still at loggerheads with Amazon over the latter’s refusal to include the channel on Amazon Fire TV, which is supposed to give consumers access to as wide a range of streaming services as possible. NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service is facing similar problems. Bezos’ online behemoth is smashing brick-and-mortar stores, smashing conservative authors and filmmakers, and now looks to smash its corporate rivals as well.

It’s only going to get worse. As consumers around the world turned to online shopping during coronavirus lockdowns, Amazon’s value surged. On Monday’s the company’s surging stock price added $13 billion to Bezos’ net worth… in a single day!

Republicans who value their political future should consider carefully what the rise of these all-powerful tech oligarchs means. Bezos is so woke, he scolds his own customers for saying “All Lives Matter.” With the wider direction of Silicon Valley, the censorship of conservative voices will only get worse. And how bad will things get for conservative small business owners, the backbone of the Republican party, when they are forced to sell their products through an ideologically hostile website?

Whether it is censoring political viewpoints, or giving preference to its own streaming content, Amazon’s behavior is anti-competitive and anti-consumer. It wants to decide what you watch, what you read, and what you by on its platform. By any definition, Amazon is flouting the basic principles of neutrality that tech companies profess to support. This hypocrisy highlights the uneven playing field, and should be a focus for lawmakers at the upcoming hearing.

Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.


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