Published By : 25 Sep 2017 | Published By : QYRESEARCH
Website algorithms have become an important issue in recent years due to its increased role in tracking user behavior and the clashes between the commercial and ethical concerns in the usage of algorithms. The role of Facebook algorithms in deciding the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections has already been debated ad nauseam, and leading online retailer Amazon recently announced plans to review its website following reports that the website’s feature to suggest to users items ‘frequently bought together’ was leading to suggestions to purchase items that could be used to create explosives.
A British television report made the discovery, which is particularly timely in Britain following the rising number of terrorist attacks carried out with household implements that do not present a threat on their own. The problem with Amazon’s algorithms is that purchases of harmless items such as cooking ingredients may be accompanied by a suggestion to purchase other frequently bought items. This makes it harder to track potentially dangerous activities. The ease of producing explosives from everyday ingredients means buying these items is not even illegal, making the algorithms even more harmful.
The use of the same algorithms on all Amazon websites means the same problems could be operative in the U.S., which was recently pointed out by the New York Times. Amazon responded with a statement saying the company was committed to complying with UK laws in how products are sold on their website and further to assist in any enquiries that may arise from such loopholes in their algorithms.