Amazon removes books touting debunked ‘autism cures’

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Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, speaks to a group of Amazon employees that are veterans during an Amazon Veterans Day celebration on Monday, November 12, 2018.

Amazon removed two books that promote unscientific “autism cures” after Wired published a report earlier this week highlighting books on the site that encourage children to consume potentially toxic chemicals.

The two titles Amazon pulled — “Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism” and “Fight Autism and Win” — were included in Wired story. The first book advises parents to make a “bleach-like substance” of chlorine dioxide for their children to drink, according to the publication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned the substance “can cause serious harm to health … including severe nausea, vomiting, and life-threatening low blood pressure from dehydration.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, but these books claim parents can cure the disorder through scientifically unproven approaches.

The removal by Amazon comes amid mounting criticism of misinformation on the company’s platform. Until recently, Amazon had not faced as much scrutiny as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the spread of false information on the web. But reports of pseudo-scientific books making money on Amazon have focused a spotlight on how the massive marketplace can be exploited as much as other networks.

The company recently appeared to remove some documentaries from its streaming service that touted widely debunked anti-vaccination theories, BuzzFeed reported earlier this month. Many of the theories push the notion that vaccines themselves cause autism, which the CDC has said is false.

The book “Fight Autism and Win” encourages parents to give their children drugs meant for mercury poisoning, according to Gizmodo. The Mayo Clinic says the treatment is both ineffective and dangerous.

Amazon hasn’t said if the removal of the books and movies is a direct result of recent criticism. The company did not immediately respond to questions about why the titles were removed and if other books were pulled from the platform.

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