By Emma Webb
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, has been working hard on the company’s ‘optics’, painting it as a paragon of philanthropic virtue.
That is purportedly what Amazon Smile is all about – giving customers the opportunity to give to charity whilst making a purchase. There is little doubt that the idea behind it could be anything but noble. Consume and do good in one click.
Yet, the series of deeply troubling revelations has shown how the programme is being exploited by extremists.
Charities participating in Amazon Smile—given a stamp of approval by Amazon in a selective process—were found to promote a series of unacceptable views, including the endorsement of female genital mutilation (FGM), marital rape, domestic abuse, homophobia and segregation.
These views completely flout Amazon’s participation agreement, which states charities included are forbidden from promoting intolerance, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age, or preaching hate, terrorism or violence.
There are only two possible explanations for how this has occurred. One is that Amazon, despite their ample resources, have disastrously failed to do their due diligence. This would be not only irresponsible but also completely inexcusable, especially given that a report released earlier this year provided ample evidence to deselect these charities.
The second option would be even worse. They knew exactly what these charities stood for and allowed them to participate anyway. It is clear that they can do their due diligence when they want to because earlier this year they blocked an anti-LGBT charity from participating. So why the inconsistency?
Amazon have gone beyond complicity in funding the activities of these extremist groups. By misleading the public in giving assurances that these charities do not promote intolerance and hate, they have given these charities the credibility they desire but do not deserve.
Like other big tech companies, Amazon has fallen prey to the exploitative methods of the UK’s Islamist extremist groups. Inflating their credibility and visibility is key to their strategy to influence hearts and minds with their insidious and divisive ideology.
Amazon should have been alert to the inevitability of these groups trying to use their platforms, and have to take responsibility for their failure. Let it be a warning to other companies that, like Amazon, they will not get away with a skin deep display of public responsibility.