So... Amazon has been removing reviews.
This isn't really any news to most people, It's sad that due to certain authors gaming the system with paid reviews, sock-puppetry and other slimy activities that such a measure is even necessary. Alas, a few bad apples spoiled the bunch, and now we're stuck with review removal.
But Amazon has gone a step far too far in their latest round of review purges.
According to Anne R. Allen's blog, which reported on this very issue (read it here), Amazon is removing reviews by people who know the author via social media. That's right. Follow your favourite author on Twitter? Had them follow you back? Your review could be removed. Have you liked their Facebook Page? Uh-uh-uuuh! Naughty, naughty. You know the author. Review removed.
What the fuck, Amazon?
Look, I don't mean to whinge, but most authors build their readership on social media. That's how they get to connect to their readership and (hopefully) grow their sales. That's how they get word out about new releases, or old releases, or events where they can be found. It is increasingly a very necessary part of selling books.
Not to mention that it's actually quite fun to meet new people and connect with them over the stories you've written.
Now, I get that family and friends would write biased reviews. That's just the nature of the beast, really. But people who have "liked" a writer's Facebook page aren't necessarily friends. They're more often people who have loved the writer's work and so decided to follow them on various social media channels. Now, because they've publicly declared their affection/admiration for an author, they cannot review any of said author's books on Amazon without risk of having that review pulled.
However, people who deliberately and maliciously leave terrible reviews are immune to all of the Amazon review purges. There are a fair number of people who do troll Amazon and leave one star reviews not based on the book in question but on some political agenda or personal vendetta, serial stalkers of writers who follow them on Amazon and leave one star reviews, whether or not they've read the books in question, fellow authors who feel like writing a bad review for revenge purposes, and so many other misleading reviews in the other direction; all of which is perfectly acceptable according to the Amazon review rules.
Amazon, you are punishing writers who have a social media following for no damned reason, and rewarding those who are deliberately harassing writers.
Vendors, the people who sell on Amazon, have our hands tied. There is very little recourse for us (as fellow Amazon sellers are well aware). Our complaints go unanswered, our causes uninvestigated. We get a "Well, it's not really against the rules, so..."
If it is true that Amazon is trying to provide an honest review section, then they need to crack down on all the misleading reviews, not just the positive ones. They need to start cracking down on the troll patrol over there, and remove the bad reviews by people who have obviously not read the book/have a particular agenda/intensely dislike an author for any particular reason, as well as cracking down on the positive ones.
Otherwise, if it's anything goes for one side, leave it as anything goes. Period.
Writers like myself, small, unknown, struggling, rely on word of mouth. Amazon's review policy is making it nigh on impossible to be seen beyond our small circle of family and friends.
Anne R. Allen finishes her blog post with a call to action, one that I will also reiterate. Reviewers, speak up if you feel your review was unfairly pulled. Readers, complain if you see reviews by people who have obviously not read the book.
Report abuse where you see it.
Maybe then Amazon will actually start to have an honest reviewing system.
Now I have work to do.