Originally posted on January 24, 2021, updated on January 24th, 2023.
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 and controversial products policies 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 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 consults Amazon leaders from around the world to refine our policies when needed. We also consult resources issued by civil rights and anti-hate organizations as guidelines.
To enforce our policies, we have proactive mechanisms in place to prevent noncompliant listings before a customer ever sees them. Our technology continuously scans all products that are submitted to be 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 may take action on the selling account involved, including suspending or banning an account or withholding payments.
To enforce our offensive and controversial product policies, in 2022, we:
- Leveraged machine learning and automation to filter listing submissions that we suspected of potential policy violation, and then manually “walked the store” to review these. In 2022, we manually reviewed more than 37,000 listing changes each day to ensure compliance with our policies.
- Removed over 4.3 million products for violating our controversial product guidelines, the vast majority of these products are identified, reviewed, and removed proactively by our automated tools, often before they are seen by a customer.
We understand that what one person considers offensive may not necessarily be offensive to others and that views can change over time. As a store, we’ve chosen to offer a very broad range of viewpoints, including books or products that may conflict with our company’s stated positions. Our policies provide guidance for our customers and selling partners about the items allowed for sale in our store. 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 decisions on products. We strive to maximize selection for all customers, even if we don't agree with the message or sentiment of all of the products. Our Offensive and Controversial Products Policies attempt to provide a clear and objective standard against which to measure the products we permit in our store.