Amazon has removed five groups that appear to be associated with the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, two militias the FBI is investigating for their alleged involvement in the January 6th US Capitol attack. Since 2013, the company has allowed charities to collect donations through the initiative. By buying an eligible product through the company, you can donate up to 0.5 percent of your purchase. According to Amazon, there are more than one million charities involved in Smile.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) January 19, 2021
The fact a militia group may have hijacked the program was first spotted by Sleeping Giants, which shared a screenshot from the website of the Indiana Oath Keepers showing a step-by-step guide on how to support the group through Smile. CNET later identified two other organizations associated with the Oath Keepers, as well as one with ties to the Three Percenters militia, using the program in the same way. A spokesperson for Amazon told the publication it removed all four groups on Friday. It also removed one associated with the Texas chapter of the Three Percent movement.
It’s not clear how the groups got into the program. On its website, Amazon says Smile is open to 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. All five groups Amazon removed from the program are registered nonprofits. There appear to be more militia groups Amazon has yet to remove.
“Charitable organizations must meet the requirements outlined in our participation agreement to be eligible for AmazonSmile. Organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible,” a spokesperson for the company said. “If at any point an organization violates this agreement, its eligibility will be revoked. Since 2013, Amazon has relied on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to provide the data for these determinations.”
The removal follows a flurry of enforcement action from Amazon against right-wing extremists. In the aftermath of the pro-Trump riots on Capitol Hill, Amazon started removing QAnon-related merchandise from its storefront, saying at the time that products that “promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence toward any person or group” on its platform. It also stopped providing hosting services to Parler, the social media app those who took part in the riot used to plan it. With Parler, the company said the app had failed to properly moderate posts calling for violence.
Update (01/26 1:35PM ET): Added comment from Amazon.