Amazon is a huge, innovative company which has contributed much to the world, including changing the face of self-publishing by implementing their Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace platforms. Thanks to that, anyone can easily and quickly publish books using Amazon's free tools. Unfortunately, a relatively unseen issue within Amazon's system has been growing: many of these self-publishing authors have been the target of an incredible amount of bullying and harassment
One reason that this bullying and harassment has been able to take place is the complete anonymity allowed on Amazon's platform. While some have seen this anonymity as a good thing, allowing anyone to freely voice their opinion without fear of retaliation, it has unfortunately allowed people to express inhumane cruelty through abusive online comments. If users' comments were matched with their actual identities, then much of the bullying and harassment would likely cease, as people would then be held accountable for what they say. To this end, Todd Barselow, the senior editor at Imajin Books, has started a petition addressed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos urging to the company to protect authors by removing anonymity and requiring identity verification for making reviews and participating in forums.
The petition has been endorsed by best selling author Anne Rice, who said, "My experience with the gangster bullies in the Forum has been very bleak and ugly. I post there under my own name. They blatantly violate [Amazon's] guidelines with personal insults and harassing posts." She also said that a lot of the offending users are probably "obsessive abusers who have found some sort of dark home on Amazon tormenting writers" and she urges the company to take action.
What the petition's supporters "would like to see happen is for Amazon to revise their policies regarding anonymity when it comes to writing product/book reviews and for participation in the forums. Reviewers and forum participants should not be anonymous. By removing their anonymity and forcing them to display their real, verified identities, I believe that much of the harassment and bullying will cease. It may continue elsewhere on the web, but not on Amazon, the largest online retail marketplace in the world, where it really counts. Buyers of products on Amazon must have their identities verified, so it should be an easy transition to implement a policy whereby reviewers and forum participants must also have their identities verified."
If you want to help end the abuse of self-publishing authors on Amazon forums by signing the petition, click here
. For those who do: "please include your experiences, briefly, if you have had any dealing with bullies and harassment on Amazon, whether it be in a book/product review or in the forums on Amazon. You can do this in the box labeled 'Why is this important to you?' just under where you sign the petition." And remember to be civil!