Commercial Exploitation of the Ebola Virus must be stopped

Amazon & Jeff Bezos
Amazon & Jeff Bezos

Amazon & Jeff Bezos : Please Stop the? Commercial Exploitation of the Ebola Virus

Amazon & Jeff Bezos
Amazon & Jeff Bezos

Ever since the Ebola plague reared its head in some parts of West Africa a few months ago, the world has been in panic mode. Almost 9,300 people have been infected with nearly 50% of the victims dying. The medical resources in the affected countries have been stretched to the limit with a number of medical professionals getting inflicted with the virus. In recent days, some isolated cases of the Ebola virus has been reported in the United States, Spain and Germany. Governments around the world have put measures in place to contain the spread of the virus, as people around the world remain vigilant and cautious for symptoms of the disease.

As should be expected, in times of great crisis, individuals, corporations and governments should rally round to overcome the crisis. So far, this has been the response to the Ebola crisis. However, despite the good intentions of many, there are a few who are using the current Ebola pandemic to pursue their own selfish agendas.

Some are exploiting the Ebola crisis due to their prejudiced mindset. To recap most of the confirmed Ebola cases reported so far have been limited to some countries West Africa. In the West some individuals have used the prevalence of the disease in some parts of West Africa as a basis to stigmatize people of African origin. To these people, Africa is a single country ravaged with Ebola. Due to scare mongering, the sight of any black person in the West vomiting instills fear as people run away for fear of catching Ebola. In the United Kingdom, a child of Sierra Leone heritage was refused admission into school, while in Texas two Nigerian students were rejected from gaining admission to a school because they came from a country that had some confirmed Ebola cases. Some politicians have used the crisis to pursue their selfish agenda.

Another category of individuals are those taking advantage of the Ebola crisis for commercial purposes. These individuals who see the crisis as a money making venture have created a ?market? in ?Ebola themed merchandised? products. It is because of these commercial exploiters that we have decided to pen this open letter to you.

Amazon is one of the success stories of America. From its small beginnings, it has metamorphosed into the largest Internet based company in the USA. It provides a platform for buyers and sellers to exchange goods via the Internet. Unfortunately, since the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, Amazon has become a platform to trade ?Ebola themed merchandise.? Amazon to an extent has acted as a market maker that connects the first category of individuals earlier described (the buyers) with the second category of individuals (the sellers). Some of the buyers include those who view the whole Ebola epidemic as one big joke. Amazon has served as a platform to connect willing Ebola themed merchandise sellers with willing Ebola merchandise buyers at an agreeable fair market price (sic). In short, Amazon has become a melting pot for bigots, jokers and Ebola merchandise traders.

Some of the ?Ebola merchandise? traded on Amazon range from

The not so good:

  • Ebola Apocalypse Response Team T-Shirt ;
  • CDC Center for Denial and Confusion Ebola Response Tank Top ;
  • Ebola Apocalypse Response Team Premium Hoodie Sweatshirt ;
  • Ebola Can’t Kill My Swag Funny Novelty – Womens T-Shirt

The Bad:

  • EBOLA Obama’s Legacy to America Bumper Sticker ;
  • Jesus Saves Ebola Kills Obama Golfs Bumper Sticker ;
  • Ebola Don’t Kill My Vibe Funny Novelty – Womens T-Shirt

The Ugly:

  • Survived Ebola and All I Got was this T-Shirt Funny Sleeveless T-Shirt ;
  • Ebola Free Hoodie Sweatshirt ;
  • Africa t shirt Ebola virus disease Africa T-Shirt? ;
  • EBOLA “Everyone Believes Our Lying Assholes” BLACK T SHIRT


We are conscious of the fact that Amazon is in the business of making money, we are also conscious of the fact that Amazon provides employment for hundreds of thousands of people around the world; we are also conscious of the fact that Amazon has to maximize value for its shareholders, but we are also aware that Amazon has responsibilities.

Martin Luther King once said, ?It is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends.? While there is nothing wrong in maximizing shareholders value, there is something morally wrong if the means to achieve it is immoral. When Amazon makes a financial gain from people who trade in the misery of others there is something morally wrong in that. Amazon cannot achieve the moral end of profit maximization from the immoral means of the commercialization of the Ebola Virus. In short for what will it profit Amazon if it maximizes its earnings and loses its soul.

We therefore appeal to you to withdraw these offensive t-shirts and other Ebola themed humor merchandise from the Amazon platform. Thousands of people are dying from the Ebola virus and it is morally wrong for people to use it as an opportunity for financial gain. As a gesture of goodwill, we suggest that you use your good office to help alleviate those impacted by the virus.

About 2,000 years ago, there was a certain person who lived in Palestine. He had just been welcomed into Jerusalem. A few moments later, he went into a Temple and he saw people buying and selling things that they should not have been dealing in. In response he overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves and said, ?My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.” 2,000 years after this incident, we are urging you to drive out the bigots, the jokers and those selling ?Ebola themed merchandise? out of Amazon and tell them, ?Amazon will be called a platform for responsible trading but you are making it a den of insensitivity?.


For and on behalf of Alatenumo Inc

Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA
October 2014

Disclosure of Interest: The author of this letter is of African origin.


Jeffrey M. Blackburn
John Seely Brown
Tom A. Alberg
Diego Piacentini
Thomas J. Szkutak
Patricia Q.? Stonesifer

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