Amazon, Waterstones algorithms promote vaccine misinformation

January 2021
Updated: January 2022

A new study (pdf) has found that Amazon is busily recommending anti-vaccination books to its users. Researchers at the University of Washington reveal Amazon hosts a wide range of health misinformation books, apparel and other products.

They also find that Amazon's recommendation algorithms make matters worse by pushing users interested in these products at even more related products.

Follow-up research in the UK by Sky News found that Foyles and Waterstones online bookstores are also recommending a wide range of COVID-19 anti-vaccination and health conspiracy theory books to their users.

Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other companies are under pressure to tackle the huge volume of online misinformation about COVID-19.

Operator: Amazon; Foyles; Waterstones

Developer: Amazon; Foyles; Watertones

Country: USA; UK; France

Sector: Health

Purpose: Recommend content
Technology: Content recommendation system

Issue: Mis/disinformation
Opacity: Black box; Governance