Amazon is apparently buying merchandise promoting the far-right Three Percenters militia movement and selling it from its warehouses, as well as hosting and sometimes distributing similar products from third-party merchants. Media Matters found more than a dozen such products available on the company’s website, despite its policies that seemingly prohibit them on the platform -- and in every instance, Amazon is making a profit from the sale of this merchandise.
Three Percenters (also known as III%ers or 3%ers) is an extremist militia movement whose name originates from the false claim that only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War. The Anti-Defamation League reports that since the movement's origin in 2008, Three Percenters “have engaged in significant criminal activity, including terrorist plots and acts.” Adherents of the movement participated in the January 6 insurrection, and six men allegedly tied to it were recently charged for storming the Capitol. This is the Three Percenters logo, for reference:
Amazon began removing Three Percenters merchandise following the Capitol insurrection. Its restricted products policies also seem to prohibit Three Percenters merchandise, as “products related to terrorist organizations” and “products that promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence towards any person or group” are forbidden. But still, Amazon continues to promote and profit from the dangerous far-right militia movement.
In an analysis of 16 different pieces of Three Percenters merchandise available on the e-commerce site, Media Matters found that four items were sold and shipped by Amazon itself, three were sold by a third-party merchant and shipped by Amazon, four were sold and shipped by a third-party merchant using Amazon’s marketplace, and five were available via the company’s Kindle e-book reader.
“Sold and shipped by Amazon” means that “these items have been purchased as inventory by Amazon” and “sold and shipped to you from an Amazon warehouse.” For example, in the image below, a Three Percenters shirt both “ships from” and is “sold by” Amazon, meaning the company has purchased the item as inventory and it is shipped from an official Amazon warehouse.
“Sold by third-party, fulfilled by Amazon” means that “these items are owned by an independent, third-party business and are shipped ahead of time to Amazon’s warehouse” and then Amazon ships them to customers. In this example, a flag decorated with Three Percenters imagery is technically “sold by” a third-party merchant, but it is shipped from an official Amazon warehouse.
“Sold and shipped by third-party” means that “these items are owned by a third-party business” and “will be shipped to you directly from that third-party business’s location.” In this final example, another Three Percenters flag both “ships from” and is “sold by” a third-party merchant, but it is still hosted on Amazon’s online marketplace -- and the company still takes a cut of the sale.
The five books available on Kindle glorify the dangerous Three Percenters movement. III Percent Patriots: The Fight for Liberty was written by Christian Kerodin, who was “convicted in 2004 of federal extortion charges and illegal possession of a firearm.” Although Kerodin can’t legally own firearms after his convictions, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2013 that Kerodin was behind a project to acquire land in rural Idaho “to build a walled fortress whose residents would make their living by manufacturing AR-15-style assault rifles and 1911-style .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols.” His book is sold by “Amazon.com Services LLC.”
The other four books Media Matters found are part of a fiction series glorifying the Three Percenters movement and violent anti-government fantasies. The most recent book cover is even decorated with Three Percenters imagery, and all are sold by “Amazon.com Services LLC.” This series is available for sale through Kindle or for free via the Kindle Unlimited program. (It appears that the author enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing which automatically enrolls the books in Kindle Unlimited, enabling them to reach an even larger audience.)
According to Amazon’s content guidelines for books, “offensive content” that “advocates terrorism” is forbidden from the platform. But the books still remain in circulation on Amazon’s platform.
Regardless of how the product is sold and shipped, Amazon makes a profit. This means that Amazon is both promoting and profiting from the far-right Three Percenters movement by simply hosting these products even though they seemingly violate Amazon’s restricted-products policies.
This is not the first time that Amazon has sold products connected to far-right extremism; the platform has previously sold material promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory and the anti-government “boogaloo” movement, both of which have been tied to deadly acts of violence.