Amazon, Books, Buzz, Hillary Clinton, Reviews, Trolls

Here’s what happened to all the 1-star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book

Online reviews of “What Happened” flooded in suspiciously quickly.

Image: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton’s book came out on Tuesday, but within a day more than 1,500 reviews had come in on Amazon — which feels like an awful lot of speed reading. 

The online critiques for What Happened were either really bad or really good. It was clear very few people were actually reading the book or reviewing it based on its substance. Instead efforts from either supporters or detractors were taking over the review section.

Midday Wednesday 30 percent of more than 700 reviews were one-star. Notice the very skewed spread below. Amazon noticed this trend too, and stepped in to remove “customer reviews that violate our community guidelines,” according to the Guardian

Review summary from Wednesday morning.

Review summary from Wednesday morning.

Review summary a day later, on Thursday

Review summary a day later, on Thursday

That meant deleting reviews that clearly weren’t based on reading or purchasing the book. By Thursday morning it was down to just over 600 reviews, with 95 percent five-star and only 3 percent at one-star.

Quartz counted more than 900 one-star reviews that were deleted from the page since the Tuesday book release. We’ve reached out to Amazon for more on the deleted reviews.

One review still up on the site Thursday morning asked, “What happened to the negative reviews? Looks like Amazon is censoring. I read this book — a curiosity but lacking true substance and introspection.”

Others online felt like the effort to remove trolls was attacking people critical of Clinton and her message about the election. The deletions also seemed to propel theories about censorship.

It’s been 10 months since Clinton lost the election, but Clinton haters are still out in force and lurking in the Amazon review section. Even if substantial, legitimate bad reviews of the book are in there, anti-Clinton trolls have abused the rating system.

UPDATE Sept. 14, 2:24 p.m. PT: An Amazon spokesperson got back to us and said, We never suppress reviews based on star rating or sentiment.” Instead, triggers to detect a large amount of activity in a short amount of time were activated. Then Amazon goes in and suppresses all non-verified purchase reviews.

Without naming Hillary Clinton or politics, the spokesperson said, “Reviews are meant to help customers by providing real feedback on a product from other customers who have tried it. There are many other forums available across the Internet to discuss topics of interest outside of the products on Amazon.

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