Amazon’s popular virtual assistant, Alexa, has been spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and lies about the Holocaust, according to a review by British politicians who called for a police investigation.
The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism wrote to the online giant to say it was “appalled” by Alexa offering “offering messages from antisemitic websites and conspiracy theories, using selective quotes and misleading sources.”
“The matter has been raised with the Home Secretary” — the UK’s equivalent of Secretary of State — “and we will be contacting the police” over possible “racial incitement legislation,” the group warned Amazon’s UK vice president, John Boumphrey.
The letter detailed a series of disturbing answers Alexa gave when asked questions about Jewish subjects, many missing out key details that would have explained that they came from “viciously antisemitic” sources.
Examples included Alexa quoting sites saying “Jews control the world’s financial systems and media” and that “Israel is guilty” of “ethnic cleansing on a massive scale and serial human rights abuse, including war crimes.”
Asked if the Holocaust was a hoax, Alexa replied that deniers claim “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,” the letter said, noting the device did not include the warning from the same article about them being “false” statements.
“Can you explain how this happened and what you will do, immediately, to rectify this?” the parliamentary group demanded of the Amazon exec.
Amazon said it was immediately investigating the claims.
“Anti-Semitism and discrimination of any kind is unacceptable,” a spokesman told The Telegraph.
“Alexa pulls from a variety of sources to respond to questions — we are investigating this and have blocked the responses reported.”