Coronavirus

Amazon is scrambling to keep up with fake coronavirus cures

Medical masks. Novel coronavirus - 2019-nCoV. MERS-Cov middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Chinese coronavirus outbreak. out of focus, selective focus

1M

How many products Amazon has blocked so far.

Reuters

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Last week, Input reported that Amazon was trying to tackle third-party sellers peddling bogus coronavirus "cures" and related "disinfectants" on its platform. As CNBC reported, Jeff Bezos' company was attempting to quell the spread of crackpot "cures" for the deadly outbreak by way of emails to the vendors, warning them that their medically-unsubstantiated claims failed to receive a review and approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and thus had to be removed.

The company is still toiling on that front, Reuters reports. So far, Amazon has prohibited at least one million products claiming to be "cures" and "disinfectants" against the coronavirus from going up on its marketplace. From fake claims to price-gouging, the company's bazaar is crawling with bad actors.

It's the least Amazon can do — The global death toll as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is now more than 2,100 while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world is 76,262 at this moment. Since Amazon is the world's biggest online retailer where people can sell just about anything under the sun, including medical items, it has a moral obligation to effectively and immediately root out any medically false and sensationalist claims on its network. It's part of its job.

Pulling the plug on price-gougers — Although it doesn't specify the exact number, Reuters reported that Amazon has taken down "tens of thousands" of offers from sellers that were engaging in price-gouging basic items like sanitizing gels and hygiene masks. In some alarming cases, the prices of ordinary items like face masks have almost tripled up, including a (now-removed) pack of N95 masks which had the average price of $41.24 and went up to $128.

It's worth noting that Amazon's newsroom has yet to mention this full-scale removal. As Reuters noted, the company deployed both bots and humans to detect false claims about the coronavirus. To be absolutely clear, this doesn't mean Bezos' marketplace is flaw-free and pristine now. There's still room, and pretty big room at that, for improvement.