Monday, March 20, 2006

Did you mean adoption?

God Forbid.

The NYT article is subscription, so here is the gist of it: (I don't think I need to comment) last week modified its search engine after an abortion
rights organization complained that search results appeared skewed toward
anti-abortion books.

Until a few days ago, a search of Amazon's catalog of
books using the word "abortion" turned up pages with the question, "Did you mean
adoption?" at the top, followed by a list of books related to abortion.

Amazon removed that question from the search results page after it
received a complaint from a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive
Choice, a national organization based in Washington.

"I thought it was offensive," said the Rev. James Lewis, a retired Episcopalian minister in Charleston, W.Va. "It represented an editorial position on their part."

Patty Smith, an Amazon spokeswoman, said there was no intent by the company to offer biased search results. She said the question "Did you mean adoption?" was an
automated response based on past customer behavior combined with the site's
spelling correction technology.

She said Amazon's software suggested adoption-related sources because "abortion" and "adoption" have similar spellings, and because many past customers who have searched for "abortion" have also searched for "adoption."