A popular legal blogger whose site was abruptly terminated without an opportunity for appeal by the revenue-sharing program Amazon Associates has concluded that someone at the web retail giant “wanted us gone” for political and ideological reasons.
William A. Jacobson of the blog Legal Insurrection said his participation in Amazon Associates was ended April 28 “without warning, with false and shifting explanations.”
Amazon further told Jacobson it was holding back any accumulated money his site was owed.
“There was no prior indication of a problem, or chance to cure,” he said.
Now, after the “month-long futile process of seeking reinstatement is over, it is clear to me that someone at Amazon wanted us gone.”
Amazon Associates is an online affiliate marketing programs that enables websites to create special links for Amazon products and earn referral fees when their customers click through the links.
“The wholesale effort to marginalize and silence voices that dissent from the Leftist agenda was not as obvious then as it is now, and at the time I thought the whole thing was just one of those inexplicable and unfortunate mistakes that happen sometimes,” Spencer wrote Thursday.
Now, based on Amazon’s explanation of what happened to him and reading Legal Insurrection’s post, he said, “I realize that it was far more insidious.”
A spokesperson for Amazon said in a statement issued to WND that Legal Insurrection “was removed from the Amazon Associates program due to a violation of the terms of the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement.”
“We remain 100 percent focused on providing the best customer experience possible, which includes a customer’s experience with affiliate links and the Amazon Associates program,” the spokesperson said. “We have a robust team that monitors Amazon Associates activity, and use a variety of tools and procedures to ensure associates comply with the terms of the Operating Agreement.”
Meanwhile, in a recent speech to the Council of National Policy, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy charged conservative Christians are being routinely silenced on social media, declaring “no conservative group is safe.”
“Increasingly, people like us are belittled and forced out of the public square, McCarthy said. “Conservative Christians are being silenced in corporate America and the mainstream media — including on social media, where some of the most important conversations of our day are taking place.”
McCarthy pointed out Amazon excluded the Alliance Defending Freedom from its charity program after “a smear campaign” by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, which designated ADF a “hate group” for its defense of traditional marriage.
ADF, he pointed out, “is not some fringe group,” it’s “one of the most respected public-interest law firms in the country, with two cases pending before the Supreme Court.”
“If ADF is not safe from discrimination, no conservative group is safe,” the majority leader said.
McCarthy also pointed out it was learned during the 2016 election campaign that Facebook employees “routinely” suppressed conservative stories so they wouldn’t show up in newsfeeds.
“And Twitter has censored run-of-the-mill pro-life advertisements for being ‘inflammatory.’ Think how backward that is,” he said. “To some in the media and Silicon Valley, the pro-life message is ‘inflammatory’ — but not abortion itself, which tears apart innocent human beings in the womb.”
‘Unjust and unequal treatment’
Last August, after publishing a story blasting Jihad Watch as a site that expresses “extreme hostility toward Muslims,” ProPublica reporter Lauren Kirchner went to Amazon and others to pressure them to dump Jihad Watch, because SPLC has designated it a “hate group,” Spencer said.
He noted that Amazon spokeswoman Angie Newman made a point of telling Kirchner that Amazon Associates had previously removed Jihad Watch and three other sites identified by ProPublica as SPLC-designated “hate groups.”
“The clear implication is that Amazon removed Jihad Watch from the Associates program because we’re supposedly a ‘hate group,'” Spencer said.
But in its correspondence with him, Spencer said, Amazon said nothing about the hate-group designation, instead accusing Jihad Watch of doing something that Spencer denies: “sending traffic indirectly to the Amazon site via automatic redirection from another web site.”
Amazon took the same approach with Illegal Insurrection, Spencer said.
“They didn’t come out and say that they were axing Legal Insurrection for being conservative. Instead, they offered the same false accusations of misuse of their program, with no chance to appeal, that they offered me.”
Amazon, Spencer said, needs to be “called out for what they’re doing.”
Spencer noted he still has Amazon links on his site, because Amazon “is essentially a monopoly today; there is no viable alternative except Barnes & Noble, and they’re no better.”
“But Amazon’s monopoly status is all the more reason why this unjust and unequal treatment must stop, or Amazon must be broken up in accord with anti-trust laws,” he said.
In August, WND reported the internet payment company PayPal banned Jihad Watch from using its service after the ProPublica article was published.
Spencer was informed that, “Due to the nature of his activities,” PayPal has “chosen to discontinue service” to Jihad Watch, placing a “permanent limitation” on the account.
Spencer told WND at the time he believed the ban was a big issue, because it won’t stop with him.
“Every group that the SPLC lists as a hate group will be targeted in the same way,” he told WND. “That includes many Christian groups and groups devoted to secure borders and sane immigration policies.
“Once they’re all shut down, the last remaining pockets of dissent will be mopped up, and America will be dead as a free society.”
‘Defamatory and dangerous’
In 2010, WND reported PayPal reversed a decision to cut services to websites run by Spencer and activist, author and blogger Pamela Geller, the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, as well as Geller’s Atlas Shrugs.
Geller also was contacted by Kirchner and mentioned in the ProPublica article as one of SPLC’s “hate groups.”
WND reported the charity watchdog Guidestar was sued by Liberty Counsel for posting SPLC’s “false and defamatory” hate designations on its pages for numerous mainstream organizations such as Liberty Counsel itself, Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom, largely for their defense of traditional marriage.
Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman of Liberty, said the “false labeling is defamatory and dangerous … exploiting a serious situation to push a self-interested political agenda.”