Amazon removes books that promote autism treatments and disinformation about vaccines

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March 13, 2019, 03.46 GMT

From Brandy Zadrozny

Amazon removes from its online marketplace & # 39; autism cure & # 39; books that scientifically claim that children can be cured of autism with pseudo-scientific methods such as ingestion and bathing in a potentially toxic bleaching form and taking medication intended to treat arsenic and lead poisoning.

Amazon confirmed Tuesday that the books "Healing the Symptoms known as Autism" and "Fight Autism and Win" are no longer available, but refused to answer specific questions about why it had removed them or were part of a larger cleanup effort. a policy where no comments are given on individual accounts.

The move by Amazon comes on the heels of a report in Wired that was published Monday and in which the retail giant was criticized for offering medically questionable books and dangerous methods to reverse the autism spectrum disorder. For years, news organizations have pointed out that Amazon hosts books that advertise vaccine and other health-related disinformation, but the pressure has increased in recent weeks.

Online platforms respond to increased monitoring by lawmakers and public health advocates for the disinformation of the health hosted on their websites. Last week, Facebook announced that the "downrank" abuse would share inaccurate information on its platform and reject advertising that "hoaxes in the vaccine" was spreading. Pinterest has chosen to block all vaccine-related search results, and YouTube disabled ads on anti-vaccination videos last month. In February, Amazon pulled anti-vaccination documentaries from its Prime Video service.

Autism is a developmental disorder that occurs in young children and for which there is no cure. Children with autism spectrum disorder display a wide range of characteristics, from difficulties in dealing with peers or forming relationships to complete inability to function at school or in a work environment.

From Monday, "Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism" sold for $ 28 and had 631 customer ratings and an average rating of 3.5 stars. The book praised the healing power of chlorine dioxide, a form of bleach that supporters call the "Miracle Mineral Solution". Kerri Rivera, the Mexico-based author, claims that 191 children have been cured from autism with a chemical treatment that the Food and Drug Administration warned can cause "severe nausea, vomiting, and life-threatening low blood pressure through dehydration."

The other deleted title, & # 39; Fight Autism and Win & # 39 ;, advises parents on chelation therapy – an unproven treatment for autism treating a child with an antidote for mercury poisoning. The remedy stems from the disproved theory that autism is caused by exposure to mercury in children's vaccines. Chelation therapy can cause serious side effects, including potentially fatal kidney damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. At the time of removal, "Fight Autism and Win" sold for $ 25 and had a 4.8 star rating and 54 customer reviews.

The removal of the books was first shared Tuesday by anti-vaccine activist Larry Cook in a newsletter to followers. Cook & # 39; s Facebook ads – targeting pregnant women in measles outbreaks – were recently banned due to platform action against misleading information.

Cook added an image that, according to him, was sent by Amazon, and explained why the company had removed the title from its window.

"During our review process, we found that the subject of your book violates our content guidelines," said Cook's screenshot. "As a result, we cannot offer this book for sale."

Cook also benefits from his Amazon store front, where he promotes anti-vaccination content and earns commission on books he has purchased.

"This title from Kerri Rivera has been on Amazon for seventy-six years, and TODAY Amazon pulled it," Cook continued in his newsletter. "Friends, seriously, book books and DVD & # 39; s now!"