Retailing giant Amazon has come under fire for allegedly telling multiple sellers that they could not advertise on the platform due to the religious nature of their products.
Sellers were told that their ads were being blocked due to a “new policy update” at Amazon which prohibited any ad that contained “religious content.”
“Products related to a specific religion are not allowed to be advertised,” an Amazon representative told one seller in an email, according to CNBC.
Amazon insist that a staff error was to blame
In a bid to reign in the controversy, Amazon quickly pinned the blame on inadequately trained staff and insisted that no such religion-suppressing policy change had been enacted.
“The email that CNBC viewed contains inaccurate information and our long-standing policies have not changed. Corrective training is being provided to the relevant teams,” said a spokesperson for the online marketplace which has an annual revenue of around $150 billion.
Loss of revenues
Still, for some sellers affected by the issue, the damage has already been done. One businessperson told CNBC that the sudden ad suspension had made a significant dent in their revenues.
For the past two years, the anonymous seller had been marketing apparel with Christian messages emblazoned across them when, suddenly, they were notified that their ads no longer met Amazon’s criteria.
“The other sellers who are currently advertising religious related Products are doing incorrect practice, which may lead to their account suspension,” an Amazon representative told the seller in response to them querying the suspension, hinting at the censoring of other similar businesses.
“Our revenue on Amazon is directly connected with advertising we do, so this would be very detrimental to our business,” the seller explained, noting that their ads were still suspended as of Friday afternoon.
Despite numerous complaints of this nature, Amazon has continued to insist that it only bans ads that “advocates or demeans a religion.”
Many Christians have been concerned by the periodic censorship invoked by social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter, but now, it seems, this bias is leaking could be leaking into the online retail industry.