Amazon has been the subject of much scrutiny after a recently published report revealed it prioritizes its own earnings over relevance in the platform’s search results. The e-commerce giant’s shares fell significantly following the report.
Originally published by The Wall Street Journal on Monday, the article details how Amazon adjusts its search result to prominently feature products that the company will profit from the most. Something that might be described as tantamount to discreetly running ads above organic results.
Amazon secretly changed its algorithm for search result rankings late last year according to the outlet. A move that doesn’t adhere to the company’s emphasis on customer satisfaction and bestselling items.
The e-commerce platform’s spokeswoman Angie Newman claims the outlet reported inaccurate facts in its article. “The fact is that we have not changed the criteria we use to rank search results to include profitability,” she tells Bloomberg. “We feature the products customers want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by selling partners.”
Newman adds that while the company includes long-term profitability in its search result algorithms, decisions were not based on that sole metric.
Apple, Facebook and Google are also under scrutiny over how they autonomously administer their massive digital platforms. The tech giants’ critics allege that they favor their own products and services over those from rivals. This stifles competition in the digital market in their favor. Critics have called for the regulation of control over their platforms.
“The optics are bad, because it lines up with these theories about how we think the platforms are abusing their power, favoring their own business,” Cardozo Law School professor Sam Weinstein’s shares his views on the matter.