Dec 2, 2022 - Economy

Amazon won't take down antisemitic film tweeted by Kyrie Irving, CEO says

Photo of Andy Jassy speaking

Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of Amazon.Com Inc., speaks during an event in Seattle, Washington on Oct. 5, 2021. Photo: David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The antisemitic film that made headlines after Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving tweeted its Amazon link will not be taken down from the tech giant's platform, CEO Andy Jassy said this week.

Why it matters: The company has faced pressure to terminate sales of the film since Irving's tweet, which was posted around the same time as rapper Ye's antisemitic remarks and preceded former President Trump's dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

  • Jassy said, however, that the retailer must allow access to different viewpoints "even if they are objectionable."
  • The documentary "Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America!" features false claims that Jews control the media and conspiracy theories denying that millions of Jews died during the Holocaust.
  • Its Amazon synopsis claims the film "uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel." Irving has since apologized for his tweet.

What he's saying: "Trying to decide which content  … that we don’t provide access to customers is one of the trickiest issues that we do with the company," Jassy said at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit.

  • "In some cases, it’s more straightforward when you have content that actively incites and promotes violence or teaches people how to do things like pedophilia," he said. "We don’t allow those, and those are straightforward decisions."
  • "When you have content whose primary purpose is not to espouse or ascribe negative characteristics to people, that is much trickier and a very slippery slope," Jassy said.
  • "Inside the company, we won’t tolerate hate or discrimination or harassment. But we also recognize, as a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with lots of different viewpoints, that we have to be willing to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable, even if they differ from our own personal viewpoints."
  • "Look, I’m Jewish, too. And I’m worried about antisemitism. And it’s, you know, I find several parts of that content very objectionable, but I think that you have to have principles if you’re gonna manage something as large as we do with hundreds of millions of customers."

The big picture: Faced with the increasingly daunting task of consistent content moderation at scale, Big Tech companies are tossing their hardest decisions to outsiders, hoping to deflect some of the pressure they face for how they govern their platforms, Axios’ Ashley Gold has written.

Worth noting: Though Amazon previously said it'd look into adding a content notice or disclaimer to the film, Jassy said at the summit that its current content moderation process — a panel reviews pieces of content that may raise the need for removal — is already "a pretty involved process" and "hard to scale."

  • "We don’t want to have a store where every page has a disclaimer."

Don't forget: Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

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