USA Today and NYT Agree: Literacy is Dangerous

Browsing books can lead people down an “extremist rabbit hole,” warns USA Today’s Jessica Guynn.

From USA Today, “Is Amazon recommending books on QAnon and white nationalism? Browsing books can lead to extremist rabbit hole”:

Amazon’s book recommendation algorithms that help customers discover new titles may have a dark side.

A new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue says these algorithms steer people to books about conspiracy theories and extremism, sometimes introducing them to the work of conspiracy theorists who’ve been banned by other online platforms.

People browsing a book about one conspiracy on Amazon are likely to get suggestions for more books on that topic as well as books about other conspiracy theories about everything from QAnon to the COVID-19 vaccine, the report found.

Wow, really groundbreaking stuff.

In a statement to USA TODAY, Amazon said: “We take concerns from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue seriously and are committed to providing a positive experience for our customers. Similar to other stores that sell books, we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints and our shopping and discovery tools are not designed to generate results oriented to a specific point of view.”

Translation: thanks for tipping us off (as an unpaid intern) to these thought criminals so we can add them to our massive list of banned books.

USA Today’s warning against “browsing books” follows the New York Times’ recent warning against “critical thinking.”

Reading and critical thinking can lead to right-wing extremism so it’s best for people to just binge-watch Netflix all day….

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