Data & Society > our work > newspaper article > Amazon Says It Puts Customers First. But Its Pricing Algorithm Doesn’t.

ProPublica | 09.20.16

Amazon Says It Puts Customers First. But Its Pricing Algorithm Doesn’t.

Julia Angwin, Surya Mattu

D&S affiliate Surya Mattu with Julia Angwin examine how Amazon’s shopping algorithm directs customers to buy Amazon or Amazon-affiliated sellers’ merchandise, even if products from other sellers on the platform cost much less.

Through its rankings and algorithm, Amazon is quietly reshaping online commerce almost as dramatically as it reshaped offline commerce when it burst onto the scene more than 20 years ago. Just as the company’s cheap prices and fast shipping caused a seismic shift in retailing that shuttered stores selling books, electronics and music, now Amazon’s pay-to-play culture is forcing online sellers to choose between paying hefty fees or leaving the platform altogether.

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