Given the attention garnered by Amazon’s review system, it’s timely to highlight a worrying development in that system. As detailed by a report in The Seattle Times, organized campaigns and activist groups are exhibiting some especially nasty behavior in using Amazon reviews to go after books, authors, and products they disapprove of.
The particular target mentioned by The Seattle Times is Scarlett Lewis, mother of one of the Sandy Hook massacre victims and author of Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother’s Journey of Hope and Forgiveness, a book about the experience. This book apparently was targeted by gun rights activists and conspiracy theorists anxious to push their belief that the Sandy Hook massacre was a fake, or a conspiracy, engineered by government to push for stricter gun control. The report cites RadMc02, a prolific YouTube poster of various far-right conspiracy theory videos, as one instigator. His video, “Truth Bomb Sandy Hook,” certainly lives up to the charge. (“This video is to bring awareness to the New World Order and Illuminati. Break away from Satan and follow Jesus!” he proclaims.)
Nurturing Healing Love, however, currently scores 5 stars on Amazon, so evidently such calls have not found too may willing ears. However, the one-star reviews do form quite a case study in psychopathology and reality denial, for anyone who cares to look. Connoisseurs of vile abuse might also want to look here.
Scarlett Lewis’s book is not the only one targeted. Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis’s Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours has apparently endured a similar campaign. Such tactics don’t appear confined to one end of the political spectrum, though. Breitbart quotes Anne Rice’s experience with activist Randi Harper and her followers over the latter’s online flashmobbing of her books on Amazon. Solutions recommended include confining Amazon reviews to actual buyers of the product, as well as Rice’s own favorite of real-name reviews, but it’s not hard to envisage ways for activists to work around at least the former. In any case, there’s little sign of movement from Amazon on this yet.