Amazon shareholders tell Bezos: Enough with the violent products

May 23, 2013

Once a year, Amazon shareholders have a chance to ask billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos anything they wish. At this year’s annual meeting, a number of them urged Bezos to stop selling brutal video games and other products that glorify violence. 

One shareholder who said he’s a Second Amendment rights advocate asked why Amazon sells violent video games and movies but limits sales of gun parts. Bezos just told him he appreciated the comment and would look into it.

Larry Dohrs of Newground Social Investment asked Bezos how the company decides when a product needs to be removed. Dohrs used the example of a target for shooting practice that Amazon recently pulled off its site. There was no audio recording allowed in the meeting, but Dohrs repeated his question to me outside.

"The target that you shoot that is called something like My Ex-Girlfriend, a woman’s head and torso, when you hit it with a bullet, it would bleed. That was a product that there was a lot of outrage about," Dohrs said.

Bezos told Dohrs that product was listed on Amazon’s Marketplace, where outside vendors can sell their goods. He says Amazon can’t have a human being approve every single thing before it gets put up on the site. But he says the company is trying to figure out better ways to rapidly police what’s for sale and make sure offensive items get removed right away.

“I’d like to get to the point where our processes are statistically indistinguishable from perfection," Bezos said. “We’re not there yet.”

Overall, Bezos disclosed very little about the company’s business plans but said it is still growing fast. Amazon added 32,000 employees last year.