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Communications of the ACM

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Is Amazon Recommending Books on QAnon, White Nationalism?

An Amazon retail store in New York City.

Amazons book recommendation algorithms that help customers discover new titles may have a dark side.

Credit: Eli Blumenthal/USA Today

A study by London-based think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) found that Amazon's recommendation algorithms directs people to books about conspiracy theories and extremism, including those by authors banned by other online platforms.

People browsing a book about a conspiracy on Amazon are likely to receive suggestions of more books on that subject, as well as books about other conspiracy theories.

ISD's Chloe Colliver said features like auto-complete in the search bar and content suggestions for the author or similar authors also can steer users toward extremist content.

Said Colliver, "Given how vital the recommendation systems are to Amazon's sales functions, it is safe to assume that recommendations of dangerous extremist or conspiracy content could be extremely pervasive."

From USA Today
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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