Big tech and their relationship with conservatives — which can best be described as “Give us your money and your data, but don’t give us your opinions” — is much in the news lately thanks to the fractious relationship between President Donald Trump and Twitter.
It goes much deeper than that, of course, and it’s all-pervasive: There isn’t a single big tech company that veers rightward or even toward moderation.
The Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the organizations that got the shaft from big tech. In 2018, Amazon removed the group from its AmazonSmile donation program — in which a small amount of each purchase is donated to a nonprofit organization — after the Christian nonprofit was deemed a “hate group.”
And who made that determination? The Southern Poverty Law Center, of course — the controversial left-wing donation mill that just happens to be a partner of Amazon’s and found that the organization’s traditional Christian beliefs were problematic.
“In using the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ list to determine which charities can participate in AmazonSmile (a program in which customers can donate a percentage of their purchase to the nonprofit of their choosing), Amazon excludes peaceful conservative and religious charities. The SPLC lumps these groups — including ADF — in with racist and violent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan,” the ADF wrote in a May 18 post.
“Amazon customers have donated more than $150 million to nonprofits through AmazonSmile. At a time when charities are desperate for funds to serve people in need, Amazon is allowing the SPLC’s subjective and widely criticized opinions to limit the charitable giving options of its customers.”
And yet, it feels like a losing battle for conservatives. These tech giants are so massive, it’s impossible to avoid giving them the money or the data they crave. What, then, do we do?
If Amazon is “partners with an organization committed to maligning beliefs that differ from its own and shutting down debate,” as the ADF describes the SPLC, this isn’t just going to be a one-off.
Given the fact that the SPLC’s definition of what constitutes a “hate group” is a relatively broad one, it’s going to be organizations far less controversial than the ADF getting barred from the AmazonSmile program.
Should the SPLC be involved in deciding what constitutes a ‘hate group?’
So, what can conservatives do? According to the ADF, it’s time for conservatives to demand that Amazon embrace “viewpoint diversity.”
It’s not just the SPLC’s involvement with AmazonSmile that should concern conservatives, for instance.
The tech giant has censored books by a psychologist who treated people for same-sex attraction. “Conversion therapy” is considered controversial, even on the right — but if you want to read about it, you’re going to have a hard time finding any books promoting it on Amazon.
It’s curious to wonder what exactly this accomplished — arguably, by bringing attention to these books, they generated more sympathy and attention for proponents of “conversion therapy” than they would have otherwise gotten — but it certainly demonstrated Amazon’s values.
Amazon says it’s all about “access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable,” yet this seems to run entirely counter to that.
Fixing this isn’t exactly easy, but there are some ways the ADF says people can make a difference.
First, Amazon shareholders can start making some noise about the company’s relationship with the SPLC by contacting Amazon Investor Relations and encouraging the company to end its relationship with the SPLC.
While one conservative investor had introduced a proposal “requesting a report on viewpoint discrimination,” the resolution failed to pass Wednesday, according to Fox Business.
“A large part of Amazon’s dynamic success is its integration with the global economy through partnerships with logistical service providers and independent content creators. Any policy that discriminates against delivery partners, content creators, or customers based on social, political, or religious views obstructs the near-limitless potential that Amazon’s innovative approach has unlocked,” the proposal read.
“The shareholders should be aware of the extent to which discrimination against social, political, or religious views by Amazon in its partnerships, content policies, and options for customer-selected charitable donations may jeopardize Amazon’s current market-dominance and may negatively affect important social dynamics beyond Amazon’s immediate business impact.”
If you’re not a shareholder, there’s still a petition you can sign asking Amazon to stop censoring conservative viewpoints and stop outsourcing their decisions on what constitutes “hate” to agenda-driven groups like the SPLC. The petition will be delivered to Amazon.
Alternatively, you can also stop shopping with them and write them a letter making it clear why you’re stopping.
After all, as the ADF pointed out, one of their leadership principles is “Customer Obsession.” And yet, they’re able to get away with acting like this toward roughly half their customer base.
It would be a start, however, and a very important one.
The SPLC shouldn’t be an arbiter of what viewpoints big tech finds acceptable. The sooner they’re decoupled from the process, the better and the fairer it’ll be.
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