Let’s Not Ignore Amazon

Congress hauled in the titans of Silicon Valley for a hearing last week. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple’s Tim Cook all faced withering questions about their censorship, alleged monopolies, and ties to China. But one tech exec was largely ignored throughout the hearing: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.

For nearly two hours, none of the lawmakers bothered asking the richest man in the world a question. Bezos spent that time eating snacks from his remote location (the tech execs appeared before Congress via video). When lawmakers did ask him questions, he proved evasive and ill-informed about the issues. For instance, he refused to give clear answers about Amazon’s practices that stifle competition, simply saying: “Consumers are the ones ultimately making the decisions about what to buy, what price to buy at, and whom to buy from.”

Most of the lawmakers who asked Bezos tough questions were Democrats concerned with Amazon’s alleged abuse of consumer data and monopolistic practices. One Republican, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, did ask hard questions about Amazon’s relations with the far-left smear machine dubiously known as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bezos weakly said that Amazon’s reliance on the SPLC is “imperfect” and he would like a better source to track “extremism.” Gaetz insisted that Amazon divorce itself from donating to and relying on the SPLC.

It’s unfortunate more Republican lawmakers didn’t show interest in Amazon. While it’s good Republicans grilled Google and Facebook about their nefarious practices, they shouldn’t overlook Amazon. Like most tech giants, Amazon operates as a monopoly, wields its immense power to crush the competition, and is thoroughly left-wing. 

Bezos has raked in billions during the coronavirus epidemic. This is likely due to his company prioritizing its own products to the disadvantage of its competitors. Millions of people relied on Amazon to deliver them essential goods during the lockdown. Amazon, strangely, only offered quick delivery on its own products while hiding faster delivery options for third-party products. Obviously, this encouraged consumers to go with Amazon products. The tech giant claims this benefit to its bottom line is an unintentional error.

Amazon controls the majority of the streaming stick market in the country. Unsurprisingly, it uses this market dominance to snuff out streaming competitors. Its streaming stick, Amazon Fire, blocks HBO Max and Peacock from its service. Both of those streaming services are direct rivals to Amazon Prime, which is the second-largest streaming service in the world. Amazon wants to ensure consumers select their products, so it blocks out the competition.

Most conservatives are aware of how Google, Facebook, and other tech giants bend the knee to the Left and censor conservatives. Less attention is paid to Amazon’s own bias and censorship. 

There is the troubling fact of Amazon’s connections to the SPLC, which regularly smears conservatives and Christians. Amazon relies on the SPLC for its Amazon Smile program, which donates 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to a nonprofit picked by the consumer. The SPLC aids Amazon in determining which nonprofits would be eligible for these donations. This arrangement leaves most right-leaning groups at a serious disadvantage.

Conservatives should be very concerned that the world’s largest internet company gives so much power to a discredited left-wing group. 

Amazon also censors conservative opinions. The popular anti-mainstream media documentary, “Hoaxed, was banned from Amazon Prime in the spring, despite ranking among the top-50 most-watched documentaries. It’s not a mystery why the owner of the Washington Post would not want such a documentary on his service. 

Amazon temporarily blocked the sales of Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns by independent journalist Alex Berenson in June. The book countered many of the mainstream media narratives about the virus. Amazon only reversed its ban in response to public backlash. Amazon-owned Twitch banned President Trump in June over allegations he engages in “hateful conduct.” Twitch asserted the president’s criticism of illegal immigrant crime is too hateful for its service. It reversed the ban two weeks later. 

Conservatives who worry about China’s treatment of ethnic minorities should also know that Amazon’s chain supply factories in the Communist state rely on Uighur slave labor.

Many people enjoy Amazon’s many services and the company is one of the most trusted institutions in America. Yet, we need not let Amazon’s cool gadgets distract us from what the company really is. It’s a monopoly that has accumulated far too much power and control over the market. It can determine whether a book or movie is available to the public. It can stifle competition with ease and ensure the supposedly free market always plays to its favor. 

If conservatives want to defend the principles that made America great, they need to see Amazon as a serious problem.

About Paul Bradford

Paul Bradford is a Capitol Hill refugee now earning an honest living.

Photo: David Becker/AFP via Getty Images

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