Theres no reason to trust Amazons Choice

 theverge.com  06/14/2019 23:09:58   Sean Hollister
Photo by Michele Doying / The Verge

Ever since Amazon introduced its Amazons Choice label in 2015 to recommend certain products, a skeptical world has been trying to find out what the badge actually means  because some items that are Amazons Choice really shouldnt be.

Even if a product has the badge and seems to have a high star score, you still might wind up with a stinker that youd have been warned against if youd just done your homework, BuzzFeed reports today.

Some examples: a $23 breathalyzer that obviously stole positive reviews from entirely different products, and a $20 infant thermometer that Amazons own user review highlighting tool flags as a waste of money.

So far, no journalist seems to have gotten a straight answer from Amazon about whether the Amazons Choice badge is something a real human ever looks at or just a human-developed algorithm. CNET and Wired each took a stab in recent years and didnt get much further than The Wall Street Journal did in 2015. On Amazons site, the official description is this:

Amazons Choice recommends highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.

While Amazon told BuzzFeed that both humans and robots are involved, it didnt explain how  and either way, it looks like theyre falling asleep on the job here.

Early last year, Reviewed.com noted that Amazon seemed to be justifying the badge with specific algorithmic reasons like if an item had a low return rate, was highly rated and was popular with people searching for a specific phrase like best toaster oven  but those callouts have since disappeared.

Amazons typical statement on the matter is this: Amazons Choice is just our recommendation, and customers can always ask for specific brands or products if they choose. But Amazons recommendation doesnt mean much if the recommendation engine is getting fooled.

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