Amazon, famous for e-commerce, digital streaming, and several other businesses, has finally reacted to the Ivermectin misinformation being spread on its platform.
Earlier in the week, a quick search on Amazon where you pressed “i-v” intentionally or otherwise would result in Amazon compiling a list of auto-suggestions. Quite surprisingly, almost all of the results would be for the version of the Ivermectin drug being used for horse deworming.
This drug has been under the spotlight recently as a major part of an anti-vaccine misinformation story, a fake cure sold by street hawkers and people looking to make quick cash. However, Amazon’s spokesperson, Craig Andrews has now come out to explain the part of Amazon in the whole saga and what the company intends to do to fix the horrible situation.
Speaking to The Verge, Craig said that although Amazon’s autocomplete results on the search are generated based on customer activity direction, the company has nevertheless started blocking certain autocomplete responses. This, he said, was being done in order to address the growing concerns.
Just like Facebook, TikTok, and Reddit, the multinational company is yet to find a permanent solution about how to limit the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. While these other platforms have seemingly taken bold steps in stopping or at least limiting the spread of misinformation, Amazon has done very little before now to even try to stop it.
Search on Amazon for “iv” shows Ivermectin-related results. Amazon is not unique in its use of the algorithm to drive autocomplete results based on activity. But as companies like Google have learned over time, there are “data voids” for search terms that were previously not so popular and can just suddenly skew the algorithm when those terms get shot up in a new rumor campaign.
At the very least, Google has taken active steps in trying to profer a solution to the data void problem, especially in their recent action where they put up warnings on search results that are purely suggestive and from unconfirmed sources.
As of the time of writing this article, Amazon’s search results still continue to show entries for Ivermectin. Other platforms seem to be up and doing in trying to curb this misinformation menace. For instance, some platforms present reliable and trustworthy information about COVID-19 and its treatments. But Amazon till now, has shown no such information, thereby indirectly allowing the spread of this misinformation based on the wide user base that the company has.
An Amazon spokesperson has also claimed that when you specifically search for “ivermectin for covid,” a link to a warning page by the FDA about the Ivermectin drug will pop up