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March 13, 2019

Amazon avoids the 'misinformation pipeline' by removing books touting autism cures

The online retailer has removed two pseudoscientific books so far

Children's Health Autism
Amazon Photo courtesy/Amazon

Amazon Prime.

Amazon is cracking down on books claiming to teach parents how to “cure” autism.

The effort comes after a Wired story revealed Monday that the e-retailer sells dozens of books boasting pseudoscientific — and often dangerous — autism "cures.” The next day, Amazon removed at least two of those books from the marketplace, Futurism reports. This is a welcome example of the powerhouse using its power to take a stand against the spread of misinformation. 

According to multiple reports, news organizations have pointed out that Amazon has hosted books that promote vaccine and other health-related misinformation for years, but the pressure has grown in recent weeks.


RELATED READ: Facebook takes first steps to combat anti-vax movement


Amazon confirmed to NBC News that the books “Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism” and “Fight Autism and Win” are no longer available, but declined to answer specific questions about why it had removed them.

It’s worth noting that these books recommended pseudoscientific methods such as ingesting and bathing in a potentially toxic form of bleach and taking medication meant to treat arsenic and lead poisoning.

Of course, the Amazon initiative comes after several social media platforms made a push to limit vaccine misinformation. Pinterest has opted to block all vaccine-related search results, and YouTube disabled advertising on anti-vaccination videos last month. Additionally, Facebook pledged to take action against any vaccine hoaxes identified by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While this is a great first step on behalf of Amazon, dozens of similar books remain on for sale on the site. The company declined to comment to NBC on why those two particular books were removed or whether the removal was part of a larger crackdown.

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