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Amazon defends deleting one-star reviews of Hillary Clinton's new book

AP

Amazon is getting flak for policing the reviews posted on its page for Hillary Clinton’s new book, which went on sale this week.

The internet quickly realized Wednesday that some of the reviews of “What Happened” — notably 1-star reviews — were being removed. But the company defended its move, saying it had the right to make sure that reviewers were actually commenting on the product at hand, not just expressing dislike of the former Democratic presidential candidate (of which there is plenty, nine months after the election).

“In the case of a memoir, the subject of the book is the author and their views,” an Amazon spokesperson told Fortune. “It’s not our role to decide what a customer would view as helpful or unhelpful in making their decision. We do however have mechanisms in place to ensure that the voices of many do not drown out the voices of a few and we remove customer reviews that violate our community guidelines.”

As of Wednesday night, Clinton’s book had 4.9 out of 5 stars from 503 reviews. Amazon prioritizes “verified purchase” reviews, cases where the company knows the reviewer actually bought the book. Ninety-six percent of reviews were 5 stars, while only 2 percent were 1 star.

Earlier in the day, according to Quartz, the book had 1,669 reviews that were nearly evenly split between 5-star (45 percent) and 1-star (50 percent). ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes how authentic Amazon reviews are, found Clinton’s book failed in categories like “suspicious reviewers” and “deleted reviews.”

Reviewers posting on Wednesday make clear they were aware Amazon had been culling reviews showing on the page. One 2-star review said “I would've given this one star but didn't want my review deleted.”

“I don't understand why is amazon being political deleting comments contradicting Hillary Clinton. Amazon deleted 1 star comments to make hillary clinton appear to have a 5 star review,” read another 2-star review.

The 512-page memoir is the story of Clinton’s jaw-dropping defeat by President Donald Trump and her reflections on having the glass-ceiling shattering opportunity of becoming the country’s first woman president snatched from her fingertips by the most inexperienced candidate to ever seek the White House. She has been criticized for using the book as an opportunity to blame others for her loss, rather than taking responsibility for it herself.

“What Happened” is sixth on the most sold non-fiction list on Amazon for the week of Sept. 3.

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