Online stores should stop the sale of anti-Semitic books, says official
Eddo Verdoner, the National Coordinator for Countering Anti-Semitism (NCAB), wants books sold online first to be assessed to see if they are suitable for sale. That is to prevent books with discriminatory or anti-Semitic content from being easily sold online. The coordinator launched an initiative calling on online stores and platforms to devise a better approach to ban these types of books and remove them from the market more quickly.
According to the coordinator, the book industry needs clear guidelines because more and more of their business is online. According to Verdoner, this makes it easy for conspiracy theorists and others to earn money from anti-Semitic books. “This is also seen as a sign that it’s okay to distribute anti-Semitic literature,” he said. The NCAB called on online stores to make their working methods public, so that it becomes clearer on what criteria they tested books taken offline.
Bol.com was one of the first online stores to respond to the NCAB’s call. Early this year, the webshop drew up rules to assess whether books are suitable for sale. Employees also examine whether the content incites violence, discrimination, or anti-Semitism. Based on these guidelines, Bol.com stopped selling several books. Some are still sold, but with a warning label. Books that have been on the site for a long time are also being reassessed with the new criteria.
“In recent years, there have been several books in the news that we wondered whether we wanted to offer them on our platform,” said a Bol.com spokesperson. “And because it is not always clear whether a book is discriminatory and we also want to be careful with freedom of expression, we decided to develop an assessment framework for this.” Bol.com posted more information about how the webshop deals with discriminatory books on its site on Tuesday.
Bol.com stressed that it is not an expert in the field of discrimination. But the company spoke to several organizations about their guidelines, including the NCAB and the Discrimination Hotline.
Together with webshops and other online platforms, the NCAB also wants to start working on a joint method with which anti-Semitic books and other products can be banned more quickly.
Reporting by ANP