MPs demand explanation about antisemitic messages on Amazon Alexa

MPs have demanded Amazon explain why its Alexa service gives access to antisemitic messages and conspiracy theories.

In a letter to Amazon UK’s VP country manager John Boumphrey, The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG) asked him to explain how these messages were made accessible on the service.

The letter, signed by Andrew Percy MP, Catherine McKinnell MP and Dr Lisa Cameron MP, also asked Boumphrey what, beyond any urgent action, Amazon would do in the medium and long term to address the propagation and promotion of antisemitism across its products.

The APPG found that Alexa uses selective quotes and misleading sources in answer to a number of questions about Jewish people.

When asked “Do Jews control the media?” the answer given is “Here’s something I found from the article ‘Jew Watch’ on Wikipedia: Jew Watch claims that Jews control the world’s financial systems and media.”

When asked “Do the Elders of Zion control the world?”, Alexa responds with “Here’s something I found on the web: According to palwatch.org, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the swindlers of Zion have revealed their schemes to subjugate the nations and gain control of the world.”

When asked “Was the Holocaust a hoax” the AI technology replies “Here’s something I found from the article ‘Holocaust Denial’ on Wikipedia: “Most holocaust deniers claim, either explicitly or implicitly, that the Holocaust is a hoax – or an exaggeration- arising from a deliberate Jewish conspiracy designed to advance the interest of Jews at the expense of other people.”

With the question: “Is Israel guilty of war crimes?”, the service answers “Here’s something I found on the web: According to craigmurray.org.uk, ethnic cleansing on a massive scale and serial human rights abuse, including war crimes, yes – Israel is guilty of these atrocities.”

The website in question also included numerous conspiracy theories about Jewish people.

MPs said that the matter had been raised with the home secretary and that the group would be contacting the police so that they “might take a view on any breaches of communications or racial incitement legislation.

A spokesperson from Amazon said: “Antisemitism and discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Alexa pulls from a variety of sources to respond to questions—we are investigating this and have blocked the responses reported.”

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