Amazon removes books touting debunked autism 'cures,' as criticism of misinformation mounts

Key Points
  • Amazon has recently been under fire for selling books and hosting videos that spread unscientific and potentially dangerous information.
  • The company appears to have removed two books claiming cures for autism, a disorder for which scientific authorities say there is no cure.
  • Amazon also recently appeared to remove documentaries spreading a false "anti-vaccination" theory.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, speaks to a group of Amazon employees that are veterans during an Amazon Veterans Day celebration on Monday, November 12, 2018.
Leonard Ortiz | Digital First Media | Getty Images

Amazon removed two books that promote unscientific autism "cures" after Wired published a report earlier this week highlighting books on the site that encourage parents to have their children consume potentially toxic chemicals.

The two titles Amazon pulled — "Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism" and "Fight Autism and Win" — were named in the Wired story. The first book advises parents to make a "bleach-like substance" of chlorine dioxide for their children to drink, according to the publication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned the substance "can cause serious harm to health ... including severe nausea, vomiting, and life-threatening low blood pressure from dehydration."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, but these books claim parents can cure the disorder through scientifically unproven approaches.

The removal by Amazon comes amid mounting criticism of misinformation on the company's platform. Until recently, Amazon had not faced as much scrutiny as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for the spread of false information on the web. But reports of pseudoscientific books making money on Amazon have focused a spotlight on how the massive marketplace can be exploited as much as other networks.

The company recently appeared to remove some documentaries from its streaming service that touted widely debunked anti-vaccination theories, BuzzFeed reported earlier this month. Many of the theories push the notion that vaccines themselves cause autism, which the CDC has said is false.

The book "Fight Autism and Win" encourages parents to give their children drugs meant for mercury poisoning, according to Gizmodo. The Mayo Clinic says the treatment is both ineffective and dangerous.

Amazon hasn't said if the removal of the books and movies is a direct result of recent criticism. The company did not immediately respond to questions about why the titles were removed and whether other books were pulled from the platform.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

Watch: Amazon's video strategy: blending commerce and content so Prime members spend more

Amazon's video strategy: blend commerce and content so Prime members spend more