New billboard in Seattle pushes Amazon to filter out Russian, pro-Putin products

North Carolina businessman Tom Harris wants Amazon to use its powerful shopping platform to help customers put their own sanctions against Russia.

But to do so, he has to get the attention of the executives at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle. So, he paid Lamar Outdoor advertising $5,000 to run a billboard at 5th Avenue and Denny Way, six blocks from Amazon HQ.

"I wanted to run a billboard as close to Amazon headquarters I could possibly get," Harris said.

The billboard reads: "Hey Amazon, will you please provide us a FILTER so we can CHOOSE whether to FILTER OUT products from countries that support PUTIN?"

The striking visual is what Harris described as ‘Ukrainian blood’ dripping from the letters that spell Putin.

"It’s basically asking Amazon to add a filter that will allow customers to filter out products from countries that the customer felt was supporting and enabling Putin," Harris explained.

Harris owns Front Street Brewery in Wilmington and calls himself a real estate businessman.

Countries worldwide are expanding economic sanctions on Russia, but Harris wants to be able to exclude products who are based in other countries like China.

"I want them to empower individual customers to impose their own personal-level economic sanctions against countries that support and enable Putin. That's my goal," Harris said.

Customers of the shopping website Etsy have the ability to shop for products from specific countries. Amazon does not have that filter.

He said he has not contacted Amazon directly about his idea, saying, "discussions like that need to be at the top of the corporation."

Amazon has come out in a very public way to support the people of Ukraine. Its facility in Portland is being used as a hub to ship humanitarian supplies to the country.

In early March, the company said it will stop shipping products to Russia and Belarus, and would stop accepting new applications for third-party sellers in those countries.

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We asked Amazon’s Corporate Communications Department if it’s still allowing third-party sellers based in Russia to use its platform. An email response did not answer the question. Instead, it provided a link to Amazon’s efforts to help the Ukrainian people.

Harris said he is a fan of Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, because of her philanthropic work. She is also major shareholder of Amazon, and he thinks her influence could sway executives to consider his filter idea.