Amazon Battles Trolls Over Megyn Kelly Book
The angry online male masses, seen recently mass-downvoting the trailer for Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters,” Phoebe Robinson’s podcast “So Many White Guys,” and many shows that feature women doing things other than supporting male characters, have turned their ire on a new target: Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.
Kelly’s new book, Settle For More, hit bookstores yesterday. In the book, Kelly goes into more detail about Donald Trump’s attempts to intimidate and threaten her after she brought to the forefront his history of misogyny during a primary debate. In an interview about the book with The New York Times, Kelly cites an uptick in the misogyny displayed during the 2016 campaign as a worrying sign of things to come for journalists. Kelly’s ongoing Trump critique ran afoul of many fans of Donald Trump. On Reddit’s The_Donald subforum—long a place for the aggrieved #MAGA nation to get its I Hate Megyn Kelly ya-ya’s out—users decided to take action, and engage in an organized effort to torpedo the book’s user-generated rankings.
And torpedo it they did, at least for a few hours. On the day of its publication, Settle For More garnered hundreds of one and two-star reviews on Amazon from suspiciously fast readers. Many were apoplectic. Others were absurd. A few contained proper spelling and punctuation. But all were in agreement: this book was trash. “Holy crap,” read one two-star review. “I was in the middle of reading this book when my mom came into my room to bring me a plate of chicken nuggets and I literally screamed at her and hit the plate of chicken nuggets out of her hand. She started yelling and swearing at me and I slammed the door on her. I’m so distressed right now I don’t know what to do. I didn’t mean to do that to my mom but I’m literally in shock from reading this book.”
Another review, called the book a [sic] “horrible, bullying, hit piece. Megyn would have you believe she is an author, a journalist, and a victim when in reality she is a talentless shill who made it her mission to attack the 45th President of the United States. I have not watched her on FOX since she went out to end President Trumps campaign. Having failed she went Brittany. Lopped off her hair and hid in a closet for a week. She needs to go away. I included a photo of the moment she realized Trump had been elected.”
Seems like Megyn ruffled enough feathers to convince hundreds of people to pretend to have read a book.
Over the course of the next 24 hours, something curious began happening to The_Donald’s one-star reviews: they started disappearing from Amazon’s website, only to reappear in waves as the barrage continued. One capture of the book’s page after the blitz began showed 468 reviews; another, taken later, showed 138 reviews. Of those reviews, 83 and 88 percent of them gave the book one star, respectively. But the casual Amazon peruser would find only 67 reviews of the book on the site by early Wednesday afternoon, with a mere 59 percent of those rating the book one star.
The one-star reviews’ slow disappearance didn’t go unnoticed by those cheering for Kelly’s failure like one might root for a sports team. A new one-star review by a user who, until “Settle For More”, had never reviewed a single book on Amazon (plenty of holistic health products and bras, though), pointed out that the fix was in. “I looked at the reviews last night I was shocked they were 473 reviews with 84% of them being one star. I read many of them I was not surprised. I am surprised now because all of those were removed now we have a 48 3 ½ star reviews you can’t trust anybody anymore, not even amazon.” Fifteen people found that review of the book helpful.
Wednesday afternoon, an all-out war between Amazon and mass downvoters played out on the online retail giant in real time. The aforementioned review complaining about disappearing reviews disappeared from “Settle For More’s” Amazon page minutes after it appeared, despite several Amazon users deeming it useful. At the time of writing, Trump fans were still not done trashing Kelly’s book; a refresh of the page mere minutes later showed that there were again 184 reviews, 77 percent of which were one-star. Minutes later, there were again nearly 200 reviews. Minutes later, 217 reviews. Just as quickly as people on Amazon’s end are able to delete them, more negative reviews pop up and are mass upvoted by others. It’s almost like these people have nothing better to do.
Amazon has been deleting troll reviews of its products for some time, according to The New Republic. Earlier this year, the site found itself the subject of conservative blogosphere outrage for removing negative reviews of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine’s book Stronger Together, raising the book’s rating from 1.7 to 2.4.
UPDATE: Amazon reached out to The Daily Beast to clarify their stance on customer reviews: "[They] must be product reviews and are designed to help customers make purchase decisions. There are many other forums available across the internet to discuss topics of interest which are not product reviews."