We, at Amazon, strive to be earth's most customer-centric company, a place where customers can find everything they need and want. When Amazon first started as a bookseller in 1995, it was important that we offer customers a wide selection from a variety of viewpoints. Today, more than 25 years later, we are proud to offer hundreds of millions of products, many from small and medium sized businesses that sell in our store. There are some products and content that we don't allow in our store, which is why we have Offensive and Controversial Materials policies and Content Guidelines for Books in place.
Our offensive products policy prohibits the sale of products that promote, incite, or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views, as well as listings that graphically portray violence or victims of violence. We periodically review and update these policies based on experience, current events, and other relevant developments, and in consultation with internal and external resources. We have a dedicated Offensive Products team that is responsible for developing and updating our policies, refining and maintaining our systems and processes, continuously monitoring our store, and manually evaluating questionable products. That team covers global operations and regularly consults Amazon leaders from around the world to refine our policies when needed. We also routinely consult resources issued by civil rights and anti-hate organizations as guidelines.
To enforce our policies, we have proactive mechanisms in place to catch offensive listings before a customer ever sees them. Our technology continuously scans all products listed for sale looking for text and images that we have determined violate our policies, and immediately removes them. In addition to reviewing information from sources such as customer service contacts, social media posts, and the press, our teams "walk the store" every day, proactively looking for potentially offensive products. The realm of potentially offensive products is nuanced and diverse, and we review thousands of products every day against our policies to ensure compliance. If we determine a product violates our policies, we remove it immediately and take action on the selling partner involved, including suspending or banning their account or withholding payments.
In 2020, we:
- Reviewed almost 10,000 product listings each day to ensure compliance with our policies.
- Removed over 2 million products for violating our offensive or controversial guidelines, with more than 1.5 million (75%+) of these products identified, reviewed, and removed proactively by our automated tools, often before being seen by a customer.
- Spent more than 5,000 hours manually "walking the store" to ensure the selection available to customers is compliant with our policies.
We understand that what one person considers offensive may not necessarily be offensive to others and that views can change over time. It is also important to recognize that something may be disagreeable but may not violate our policies. We exercise judgment in allowing or prohibiting listings, and we keep the cultural differences and sensitivities of our global community in mind when making a decision on products. We strive to maximize selection for all customers, even if we don't agree with the message or sentiment of the product itself. Our Offensive and Controversial Products Policy attempts to provide a clear and objective standard against which to measure the products we permit in our store.