To whom it may concern,
We understand that Amazon tries to hold itself to a high standard as an online retail outlet where even independent sellers can promote their products, and that the company tries to hold its community to a high standard of ethical business practices.
In recent weeks, Amazon has reportedly started removing user comments and ratings deemed suspicious, fake reviews both positive and negative being flagged for attempting to artificially alter product ratings, something practiced by both sellers and competitors.
The use of “sock puppets” or fake accounts is only one way that sellers attempt to artificially boost their ratings. Others attempt to curate comments by flagging negative comments or ratings for removal and leaving only positive feedback on their products, the latter of which they attempt to increase through concerted efforts.
We would like to call attention to one such organization that has been using Amazon as a platform for promotional propaganda of their religious e-books. The United Church of God is currently offering some of its religious literature through Amazon for free electronic download. However, it’s been brought to our attention that many who have attempted to leave dissenting comments against either the literature or the organization have had their feedback censored and removed.
Meanwhile, UCG has publicly asked its members to “help” its gospel efforts by leaving ratings, with the obvious suggestion to write rave reviews about its digital booklets.
We Need Your Help
When we post a new e-book to Amazon we need your help to let them know its available at other online locations for FREE. Right now we have one e-book that is still listed for 99 cents—How to Understand the Bible.
We need just a few minutes of your time. All you need to do is have an Amazon.com account and follow the instructions listed on our Amazon volunteer webpage or visit our main How Can I Help? volunteer page (under the “I have free time” section). Once the e-book is listed for free at Amazon.com we will remove the request for that particular e-book.
You can also help by submitting a review of any of our e-books and leaving a comment that you feel would be helpful to any potential readers.
Please take a few minutes and help us with this project. It will really help our Web team at the homeoffice!
Aaron Booth—Internet Manager
It seems that for whatever reason, positive comments and ratings are being left alone while critical feedback is being mostly removed, leaving very few negative comments left. Months ago, our blog had asked our readers to leave their own comments to counter UCG’s attempt to artificially boost their own ratings, with the full understanding that our readers would primarily leave critical commentary. We are uncertain how many actually attempted this, but we have seen comments disappear from UCG’s offerings. A handful of lower ratings remain, but not as many as we had seen previously.
This becomes important because buyers should beware, even when the price tag says “free” and readers should be made aware of who exactly is selling them what.
We would humbly ask Amazon to examine whether UCG is abusing your website as a platform. If not, we would ask that negative comments not be treated as any more suspicious than the positive ones currently boosting UCG’s ratings. It could be interpreted that there are competing efforts to purposely raise and lower the ratings on UCG’s booklets. We ask only that parties on both sides have their feedback treated fairly rather than having one side favored at the exclusion of the other.
With sincerest regards,
The staff of “Silenced” – http://silenced.co