The latest from Amazon’s personal assistant – donating to presidential candidates.
“Starting next month, customers will be able to simply say, ‘Alexa, donate to [candidate name]’ to contribute up to $200 to any participating candidate’s campaign fundraising efforts,” Amazon announced on its company blog.
The contributions via Alexa will begin in October, Amazon said.
Beyond the contributions, the e-tailer said, it will offer neutral, unbiased, nonpartisan information about the candidates, available via voice requests.
“We aim to provide the most relevant, accurate, and timely information about elections and candidates,” the company said. “We federate across hundreds of information sources, and we collaborate with nonpartisan organizations to provide customers with information on polls, ballots, results and more. Alexa herself does not have opinions on politics or candidates.”
Social network Facebook got into serious trouble after the 2016 presidential campaign when Russian operatives gamed the system and flooded it with nontruths about candidates, according to government security agencies.
Examples of potential easy Alexa queries:
•”Alexa, who is running for president?”
•”Alexa, when is the Iowa caucus?”
•”Alexa, when is the next debate?”
Voice Assistants: Hey Siri, Google and Alexa – enough with the snooping
Amazon offered three other choices whose answers could be disputed by candidates as examples of “fake news”:
•”Alexa, how is (candidate) polling?” We asked about President Donald Trump, who routinely lashes out at poll results he doesn’t agree with, and Alexa relayed Trump’s approval rating of 41%, compared with 52.8% disapproval, per RealClearPolitics.
•”Alexa, who endorses (candidate?)” We asked about Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, and Alexa couldn’t answer, sending us to crowdsourced Wikipedia, which is easily gamed, for the answer. Alexa read snippets of articles that had nothing to do with endorsements.
•”Alexa, how does (candidate) stand on education?” Amazon turned this time to nonprofit Ballotpedia, which touts a nonpartisan, neutral point of view. For the answer, Alexa told us Warren called for canceling student debt, and as president, Trump expanded school choices for parents.
For donations, Amazon said, you must have voice purchasing enabled via the Alexa smartphone app and a credit card on file. To accept the money, presidential candidates (or their staffs) need to register for a merchant account with Amazon.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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