Amazon, Google, and Wish have taken down racist products after an investigation uncovered such listings on their platforms.
Among the products that were for sale were white-supremacist flags, Neo-Nazi books, and Ku Klux Klan items, according to an investigation by BBC Click.
The algorithms of Amazon and Wish also issued recommendations for other white-supremacist merchandise, which was called out by think tank Demos for pushing online shoppers towards racist products.
“It often takes human investigation to work out that people are being led down this path,” Demos’ chief technical officer and senior researcher Josh Smith told BBC.
“The products in question are no longer available and we’ve taken action on the bad actors that offered the products and violated our policies,” Amazon told BBC, while Google said that it doesn’t allow ads or products that “display shocking content or promote hatred.”
“Wish strictly prohibits the listing of products that glorify or endorse hatred towards others. We are working hard to remove these items and taking additional steps to prevent such items appearing again,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends. “We encourage members of the public to report any offensive or inappropriate listings to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Digital Trends has also reached out to Amazon and Google for further comments on the investigation, and for information on how they will prevent the racist products from reappearing on their platforms. We will update this article as soon as we hear back.
Tech against racism
X. Eyeé, outreach lead for responsible innovation at Google, and Angela Williams, policy manager at Google, raised concerns at the (Not IRL) Pride Summit that bias in A.I. algorithms is amplifying racism, hurting already marginalized communities not just in the United States, but around the world.
Big Tech has the means to address systemic racism, but the companies have so far failed in pushing for concrete change.
Updated July 27, 2020: Added statement from Wish spokesperson.
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