Dear Readers A few weeks ago I woke up to this message: Hello from Amazon.com We are writing to inform you that we have removed your review privileges and suppressed all of your reviews. Any new reviews written will automatically be suppressed. We took this action because you have failed to comply with our review guidelines and manipulated product reviews. For detailed information on the guidelines, please visit: http://amazon.com/help/customer-reviews-guidelines. Surprised and curious I asked them for clarification on the matter but have had no personal reply to my appeal. Amazon removed all of the reviews I wrote: 1700 of them without discussion or ‘trial’. Eventually I received this: Hello, We’ve removed Customer Reviews left by your account because it’s come to our attention that you have violated our policies by manipulating Customer Reviews. Any attempt to manipulate ratings, feedback, or Customer Reviews is prohibited. After reviewing your account, we’ve determined that your reviews will remain removed from the site. For more information, please review our Customer Review Guidelines (http://amazon.com/help/customer-reviews-guidelines). We will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on this matter. We appreciate your cooperation, Review Moderator Amazon.com You can see, they are not very forthcoming, despite their trigger happiness. I’d like to believe that they are trying their best to make the system credible but without bothering to tell me what my crime is and without effective deletion of troll reviews I am getting cynical. Every review is a “manipulation of customers”. Trolls and nasty people are doing their worst with full support of Amazon. I’m currently inundated with messages, some from irate authors assuming that ‘I have deleted the reviews of their book’. Apologies, this has nothing to do with me, neither do I know why this is happening. I’ve had plenty of questions from you: whether my reviews were verified purchases, whether I forgot to mention when I received a copy for the book etc. I cannot answer any of these questions as I do not know which specific review or ‘behaviour’ has triggered the alleged ‘violation’, nor have I violated their guidelines. 95% of my reviews were of books I bought through Amazon and I usually mentioned if I had been given a copy for review. All I can say is to assure you is that Amazon most likely has singled me out for one reason or another. Nobody else that I know of has been affected this way. Something similar has happened a few years back to a reviewer ranked #50, who is believed to have been reported by jealous ‘rival’ top reviewers. Then, too, there was no trial or discussion and his reviews never re-appeared. http://reviewsbyamoslassen.com
Strangely, the action against me by Amazon took place at a time when I hardly reviewed due to a family bereavement and house move. My ranking was dwindling anyway. I wonder if it could be the doing of one of a few disgruntled individuals, whose books I refused to review or who have taken issue with me in one of the Facebook groups. As moderator in several of them I have made enemies. Without word from Amazon, this is all useless speculation that I have long abandoned. None of this makes much sense – to my knowledge I have done nothing to provoke drastic action that shouldn’t have taken half of the other reviewers down with me. I worked hard to keep my integrity in all of my reviews and have nothing to apologise for. Amazon still hides behind automated, impersonal and Big Brother type replies without the need to provide evidence for their accusation, nor even disclose any further information, and not in the least interested in any possible defence. All that from the land of the free? In the US system, federal courts can use the writ of habeas corpus to determine if a state’s detention of a prisoner is valid. A writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful. In the UK this was introduced in 1679 – Amazon has gone medieval.
In the future, I will review on their rival sites Smashwords and Itunes. I purchased 95% of the books I have reviewed on Amazon, a business that I will take elsewhere from now on. (Sorry, I am unable to transfer the 1700 reviews to all the new sites)
I will not reply to all comments on this, as I’m getting sick of the impact the drama has had on my life, my inbox and the time I could spend on communication. I thank you all for your support and kind messages and hope that Apple and Itunes will succeed in their endeavour to create more user-friendly interfaces for ibooks and bring Amazon down from its monopoly position that makes it so cocksure.
Reviewing I will continue to do. I leave my reviews on Goodreads, Booklikes and Rifflebooks.com anyway. I will not let a bully like Amazon dictate what I can or can’t do.
My advice to you is this: Keep branching out on all platforms: Itunes/ Ibooks. Smashwords, Kobo etc. Don’t let Amazon rule the world of boooks and reviews. Keep copies of all reviews written by and about you, so you can at least quote from them. Don’t be discouraged. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Follow on blog post on the subject: https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/amazon-censorship-update-verdictwithouttrial-reviewcensorship-amazon/