Money talks

Pro-abortion activists think they have found something amiss with Amazon and changes are afoot: Inc. said Monday it had modified the way its search engine handles queries for the term “abortion” after receiving an e-mail complaint that the results appeared biased.

Until the recent change, a user who visited the Seattle Internet retailer and typed in the word “abortion” received a prompt asking, “Did you mean adoption?” followed by search results for “abortion.”

Spokeswoman Patty Smith said the automated prompt was purely based on technology, and that no human had made the decision to show the question.

“Adoption and abortion are the same except for two keystrokes,” Smith said. “They also, in this case, happen to be somewhat related terms.”

In other media news, the New York Times proves that it will take advertising from anyone who offers:

Human-rights activists are scorching The New York Times for taking almost a million dollars in advertising from the blood-soaked country of Sudan, whose leaders — according to the paper’s own news and editorial pages, as well as its Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof — promote slavery and genocide on a grand scale.

The ad copy — by international image consultants Summit Communications — touts Sudan’s “peaceful, prosperous and democratic future” and complains about international media coverage “focused almost exclusively on the fighting between rebels and Arab militias” in Darfur.

Like with global warming, mainstream media talk of making changes, yet still accept advertising from oil companies, airlines and other polluters. Should the paper have taken this ad from Sudan? I wonder if they would have responded similarly if Iran came knocking. A cynic would say that the paper wouldn’t dare promote a country in the cross-hairs of the US establishment.

And what about Summit Communications? They are “dedicated to raising the profile of the world’s most dynamic emerging markets.” How they would describe Iraq?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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