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Amazon gets in a Twitter spat with Elizabeth Warren and doesn’t do itself any favors

Amazon gets in a Twitter spat with Elizabeth Warren and doesn’t do itself any favors
[Photo: Flickr user Lorie Shaull]

Amazon got in a rare public Twitter spat yesterday, responding to a claim made by Senator Elizabeth Warren during a New Hampshire Town Hall as part of her campaign to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. Warren was asked about her plan to break up Big Tech and used Amazon as an example.

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She accused the retail giant of collecting “information on every buyer and seller” and using the data to see which products are popular and then creating its own competing private label products, knocking back the original in the site’s search results.

“The consequence is that Amazon, because of its superior information, can come in and knock out all of the competition,” Warren said. “Giant tech companies have too much power,” Warren tweeted. “My plan to #BreakUpBigTech prevents corporations like Amazon from knocking out the rest of the competition. You can be an umpire, or you can be a player—but you can’t be both.”

Amazon publicly waded into the foray on Twitter. In its tweet, it said, “We don’t use individual sellers’ data to launch private label products (which account for only about 1% of sales). And sellers aren’t being ‘knocked out’ — they’re seeing record sales every year.”

The senator wasn’t having it. She fired back at Amazon on Twitter, citing several news stories that support her points, including ones on Amazon’s use of data to copy successful products as well as pointing out the company’s profits from its private-label products, which compete with its own retailers and are projected to reach $25 billion by 2022. In its tweet, Amazon also claimed it makes up “less than 4% of U.S. retail,” but Warren’s point was that it makes up 49.1% of online retail sales, which Warren noted, was “an odd thing to deliberately misconstrue.”

Warren, who helped establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—a U.S. government agency that protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices by companies—isn’t backing down in her fight against what she sees as unfair business practices on the part of big technology companies.

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