It's More Than OK That Amazon Deleted Troll Reviews On Hillary Clinton's Book

by Kerri Jarema

If you're part of the book community, you are no stranger to the "troll review," and it looks like Hillary Clinton's What Happened has joined the ranks. The flood of troll reviews usually starts when, for one reason or another a group of people on the internet have decided that they hate an author or a book's message, or both, and without having ever read the material in question they leave negative reviews everywhere from Goodreads to Amazon. Every time this happens, readers, publishers and authors come together to fight the tide of unwarranted negativity with reviews and comments of their own, many of which are supported by actually having read advance copies of the book.

So, it's not exactly surprising that Hillary Clinton's What Happened would be subject to much of the same ignorant negativity and vitriol. But, perhaps unexpectedly, this time the book has got some corporate power behind it. Because, as it was reported by the Evening Standard, Amazon has allegedly deleted at least 900 reviews of the book since it was published. Many of the 1600 reviews that had been posted on the site before then did not, in fact, praise or criticize the contents of the book, but instead focused in one making political statements against Clinton. According to the Standard, Amazon became concerned that many of these reviews were written by people who were politically-motivated and had falsely claimed to have read the book.

A spokeswoman for Amazon told the Standard they do have mechanisms in place to “ensure the voices of many do not drown out the voices of a few and we remove customer reviews that violate our community guidelines”. And in the article, Simon & Schuster president and publisher Jonathan Karp is quoted as saying, "“It seems highly unlikely that approximately 1,500 people read Hillary Clinton’s book overnight and came to the stark conclusion that it is either brilliant or awful.”

And while many of us might consider this a win for the authors and readers everywhere who are tired of seeing uninformed and personally motivated reviews of books all over the internet, it seems that not everyone is on board with Amazon's decision. Just one peek at the comments section of any article reporting on the reviews shows many comments attacking Clinton, her book and Amazon as perpetrators of "fake news" or censorship. Clinton herself has discussed at length the role that misogyny and sexism played in her election loss and it's clear that many of her opponents are still trying to get her to just shut up and go away. But, so far, it looks like Clinton won't be giving them what they want anytime soon.