Jeff Bezos collapses under pressure over whether Amazon will continue to block donations from customers to extremist groups designated by SPLC, claiming it is an ‘imperfect system’


  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos collapsed under questioning from Representative Matt Gaetz during Wednesday’s tech antitrust hearing.
  • Gaetz asked Bezos about the company’s Amazon Smile program, which allows customers to nominate charities they want to support. Amazon will donate a portion of some of its sales to this organization.
  • The company relies on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine which charities are not eligible for Amazon Smile, which includes groups that promote hatred, terrorism, intolerance or violence.
  • Gaetz mentioned a handful of groups such as Catholic Family News, American Family Association, and Jewish Defense League that are reported by the SPLC and therefore not eligible to participate in Amazon Smile, and Bezos replied that they were an “imperfect system” and said Amazon would. “As suggestions on better or additional sources” to guide the program.
  • The groups Gaetz mentioned promote a range of hate ideologies, including anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTQ rights, according to the SPLC.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos withdrew under questioning from Rep. Matt Gaetz during Wednesday’s tech antitrust hearing.

Gaetz, a Republican representative from Florida, asked Bezos about Amazon’s Smile program, which donates 0.5% of qualifying purchases to the charity of the customer’s choice. Amazon relies on the US Bureau of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit that identifies hate and extremist groups in the United States, to help it determine which law enforcement agencies are. non-eligible charities.

Amazon says it does not allow customers to donate to organizations that “engage in, support, encourage or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering or other illegal activities ”.

Gaetz asked why some organizations – including Catholic Family News, American Family Association, and Jewish Defense League – are not included as options for clients.

“I’m just wondering why you would place your trust in a group that seems to be so out of step and that seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate? Gaetz asked Bezos.

Here’s the full exchange:

Bezos: We use data from the Southern Poverty Law Center to tell which charities are extremist organizations, we also use the US Foreign Asset Office to do the same, both together …

Gaetz: But why? Since they call Catholics and these Jewish groups hate groups, why would you trust them?

Bezos: Sir, I will admit that this is an imperfect system and …

Gaetz: Without a doubt.

Bezos: And I would like some suggestions on better or additional sources for how …

Gaetz: My suggestion would be a divorce from the SPLC.

The SLPC returned minutes later in another line of questions, and Bezos again hinted that Amazon would explore options other than the SLPC when determining appropriate charities.

“While I accept what you say, the SLPC and the US Foreign Asset Office are not perfect, and I would like a better source if I can get it, which is what we use today.” hui, ”Bezos said.

While Gaetz has described a handful of groups that he sees as promoting “mainstream Christian doctrine,” the groups specifically mentioned by Gaetz are described very differently by the SPLC:

  • Catholic Family Ministries publishes Catholic Family News, which published anti-Semitic rhetoric and greeted “Catholic extremists” at its conferences, according to the SPLC.
  • The Federation for Federal Immigration Reform, which the SPLC says has ties to white supremacist groups and is pushing to “severely limit immigration” to the United States.
  • American Family Association, an anti-LGBTQ organization that organizes boycotts against companies that support LGBTQ rights, according to the SPLC.
  • Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ group that the SPLC says has campaigned against same-sex marriage.
  • The Jewish Defense League, which the SPLC describes as “a violent form of anti-Arab and Jewish nationalism” which has organized terrorist attacks.
  • While Gaetz cited Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson as part of the SPLC’s list of extremist groups, that was not entirely correct – as the SPLC released an “extremist dossier” of Carson in 2014 he then removed that page and apologized to Carson.

Gaetz’s interrogation of Bezos came after more than four hours of questioning by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. During the first part of the hearing, Bezos received very little questioning by the committee after what appeared to be technical difficulties.

In the latter part of the hearing, Bezos was pressed on a range of topics, including Amazon’s treatment of third-party sellers and counterfeit products on the platform.


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