An Amazon Kindle held next to an Amazon logo in 2012.
Photo: Toby Talbot (AP)

Amazon has taken down nine books written and self-published by Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, the notorious reactionary misogynist, virulent homophobe, and self-described “pickup artist” behind a small web-based empire.

According to HuffPost, Amazon booted nine of Valizadeh’s books from their catalog after their reporters inquired as to whether his writing violated guidelines:

On Monday, Amazon took the rare step of removing nine of more than a dozen books written by Valizadeh from its website, including his most recent one, published Friday. Amazon banned the books after HuffPost reached out to ask whether Valizadeh’s content was in violation of the company’s content guidelines for self-published material — but not before it hit the top 1,000 books sold on Amazon that day. Valizadeh sold more than 2,000 copies at $23 each before Amazon knocked the books off its site, he claimed later.

Amazon confirmed to Gizmodo that it had removed Valizadeh’s books from its marketplace. The company declined to comment on the specific reasons for their removal.

Valizadeh’s work has included authoring posts advocating the legalization of rape on private property (he later insisted it was satire, though a “raging success”) and bragging about advocating predatory sexual behavior. Some of Valizadeh’s writings describe incidents in which he admitted to pursuing a woman in Iceland so intoxicated it would have been considered “rape” in the U.S., as well as penetrating a woman while she was “half-asleep.” (Valizadeh has denied allegations of rape.) Others have advocated moving to developing countries to pursue relationships with impoverished women. In addition to his own blog, he created the cesspool website Return of Kings.

In 2016, Valizadeh tried to organize an international series of rallies he claimed would be “tribal meetings” of his followers, only to cancel them over promised counter-protests and petitions to deny him entry at national borders.

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The Anti-Defamation League has described Valizadeh as promoting ideology at the intersection of organized misogynist and white supremacist groups. In doing so, the ADL noted he is “not white, which means he will never be embraced by the alt right, no matter how enthusiastically he stands for their racist, sexist ideology.” He’s also been classified as a “male supremacy” extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Emails posted by Valizadeh to Twitter appear to show Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing staff stating, “If we identify additional submissions with similar content that violates our guidelines you may lose access to optional KDP services and/or face account level actions up to and including termination.”

Amazon would not specifically confirm the authenticity of the emails Valizadeh posted on Twitter but said they are consistent with the company’s communication with authors.

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Numerous books by Valizadeh remain accessible on the Amazon website, though, including guides that purport how to teach men how to sleep with women across South America and Europe and which could be fairly described as promoting sex tourism.

HuffPost added that Valizadeh refused to talk to a female reporter but has taken to Twitter to complain about alleged censorship:

HuffPost repeatedly attempted to talk to Valizadeh, who declined a female reporter’s interview request (he instructs all women who want to communicate with him to first show him a photo of themselves). He blocked another HuffPost reporter on Twitter after ignoring his emailed requests for comment. But on Twitter and his website, Valizadeh has expressed shock that his newest book has been taken off Amazon.

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Additionally, HuffPost reported that YouTube took down one of Valizadeh’s videos for on hate speech violations and restricted him from livestreaming, which he says helps promote book sales, for three months.

Tech platforms have been moving more aggressively against hate speech in recent months, though as HuffPost noted, it’s usually under sustained media pressure. For example, Infowars conspiracy kingpin Alex Jones recently was deplatformed on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, among other sites, though only after months of criticism centered around his harassment of mass shooting survivors and their families. Likewise, Twitter—where Valizadeh still has a verified badge—banned or removed verified badges from a number of prominent white supremacists and neo-Nazis, though CEO Jack Dorsey has reportedly undercut efforts by his own moderation staff.

Update 10:20am: Amazon confirmed to Gizmodo that it has removed the Valizadeh titles from its marketplace and said that the emails he posted are consistent with how the company communicates with authors.

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[Huffington Post]