A popular vampire novel author, Anne Rice, recently launched a petition on change.org to convince Amazon to remove anonymous book reviewing after Internet trolls ganged up on her.
The petition, titled “Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum Participation,” primarily seeks to raise awareness of the “the lack of oversight and or control in the Amazon system regarding product reviewing.”
In the letter to Amazon, she writes: “I believe, as do countless others—many who will have signed this petition—that the reason this bullying and harassment is able to take place is because of the allowance of anonymity on Amazon. People have found ways to exploit this flaw in the system and are using it to bully, harass, and generally make life miserable for certain authors on Amazon. These people are able to create multiple accounts and then use those accounts to viciously attack and go after any author or person that they feel doesn’t belong on Amazon or who shouldn’t have published a book, made a comment on a forum post, etc. With the current system, if one anonymous account gets deactivated because it was reported for these things, it is easy for the bully or harasser to simply create another anonymous account and continue on with their shenanigans.”
Unfortunately, the petition and anti-bullying movement is having a difficult time getting traction because it is seen as having an anti-bad-review platform, and the author having already developed a reputation for having “overenthusiastic responses to bad reviews of the old-fashioned variety, ones that are not exclusively ad hominem attacks.(TIME)”
However, the possibility of her success seems to be enhanced by the fact that a less-ambitious and similar petition succeeded last year when Goodreads, which was acquired by Amazon recently, clarified its reviewing policy to delete ad hominem attacks, after reported threats of rape were hurled at some authors who had angered the readers.
Many other critics have also weighed in and voiced their opinions for anonymous book reviewing, some saying that only those who have purchased the book should be allowed to comment, to others who suggest perhaps a system of Wikipedia-like volunteer administrators.