Amazon frightened many conservative authors this week in a mass deletion of reviews. Some authors lost almost 100 reviews on their published works. Others lost all the reviews they had ever written on Amazon. Some lost both. Information about the purge began to trickle out in the closed Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA) Facebook group. Member after member began reporting the losses at the same time. Marina Fontaine, whose credits include the dystopian Chasing Freedom, the pro-Trump fiction anthology MAGA 2020, and moderating the CLFA page, reported many members experiencing losses. A coordinated effort was launched to contact Amazon for explanation. Jon Del Arroz, a science fiction author who was banned from Worldcon earlier this year, contacted Amazon directly asking for his reviews to be reinstated. Amazon responded:
At this time, we’ve reviewed your feedback and ensured that appropriate action is taken. There may be times that reviews must be removed from the site. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to discuss the specifics about why the reviews were removed as we’ll only be able to discuss that with the individuals who posted the reviews. They’re welcome to contact us if they’d like additional information.
Del Arroz’s reviews were reinstated but the corporate response is less than satisfying to conservatives who know their freedom of speech is under constant attack from SJWs in a big tech industry that rules the socials and platforms writers need to connect with their audience.
“I asked several independent authors about the review losses when it occurred,” Del Arroz told PJM. “My left-wing author contacts said they didn’t lose any reviews, but the right-wing authors who are members of a group called the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance all lost an incredible amount of reviews,” continued Del Arroz. “One author said he lost seventy-seven on his books, which is devastating. I believe the CLFA was targeted by an extreme alt-left troll mob running an email harassment campaign to Amazon who were enabled by a rogue Amazon employee.”
Del Arroz is no stranger to targeted email campaigns run by far-left activists who have managed to get him banned from Worldcon and excluded from joining the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Amazon refuses to put an end to speculation that conservatives are being targeted, saying only, “There won’t be any additional insight or action we can offer on the matter.”
“I hate that absolutism, with no way of finding out what happened,” said a conservative author who chose to remain anonymous for fear of more reprisals. “I lost all my reviews with no explanation and then they were reinstated after I complained.” Some are questioning if it was a test run for more censorship to come.
“This does happen from time to time,” said Fontaine. “But this is too much of a coincidence.” CLFA members feel targeted by Amazon. Declan Finn, author of several series, including a popular Catholic spy thriller, reported big losses. “Yes, I did lose reviews, both those on my novels and those on books I’ve published. I went from 315 to 238 in the blink of an eye,” he told PJM. “As of now, the reviews have only come back up to 269. While I generally try not to be paranoid about political targeting, it’s awfully suspicious that CLFA members lost reviews from their novels, or had all of their reviews purged from their profiles.”
“In order to get a bigger sample (and perhaps find a single non-conservative who has had this problem),” said Finn, “I’ve posted a few calls on my blog for people to tell me if they’ve had it happen to them. I’m still waiting. While the reviews I’ve posted have been restored after a conversation with Amazon, I was never told why they were deleted in the first place.”
Finn agrees with Del Arroz on the rogue employee theory. “Amazon has had employees go rogue before. The publisher Castalia House had one of their books temporarily pulled because an employee went rogue, so it’s happened before.” Castalia House is the home of much-maligned editor Vox Day, who is not shy about his strong anti-SJW activism and efforts to publish more conservative entertainment in every genre.
The conservative outlets silenced by far-left actors in big tech companies are far too numerous to mention. The crackdown on conservative content has been felt on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and now it looks like Amazon is getting in on the fun.
At least one libertarian author, Anna Erishkigal, filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission because she feels Amazon violated the customer relationship by removing her reviews (not once but three times) on confirmed purchases she made. “I give up… boycott boycott boycott,” she said. “I’m not going to buy products from them if they think so little of me, they block my reviews of what I just bought as fraudulent.”
Amazon might do well to remember that its authors are also its customers.
PJM reached out to Amazon for comment but got no response.