Alexa to provide branded answers to your pressing questions

See, the problem is that you plebes simply aren’t buying enough. To rectify this issue, Amazon announced on Thursday that it is introducing a new Alexa feature, dubbed “Customers Ask Alexa,” wherein “expert brands” provide answers to customer questions like “How can I remove pet hair from my carpet?” that also just so happen to prominently feature that brand’s particular product.

Per the company, brands will have to first sign up to the Amazon Brand Registry to gain access to the sellers hub where they can view and answer questions that customers ask their networked Alexa devices. Both questions and answers reportedly pass through the company’s content moderation team before the most relevant answers are pushed live.

The program launches on limited release this October before expanding out to all eligible US brands by 2023. Alexa users will see the responses appear in late 2022 in the Amazon search bar and on Echo devices by the middle of next year.

While this isn’t the creepiest use of Alexa we’ve seen from the company in Q3 2022 — that honor goes to the ghouls who think using your Nan’s vocal imprints like an auditory marionette is a good idea — but it is among the most concerning. Amazon has made no secret of its goal to surveil (and subsequently profit from) every aspect of our public and private lives that it can worm itself access into — whether that’s knowing our shopping habits, viewing habits, eating habits, obviously our cleaning habits, and potentially soon, our healthcare habits. And if this announcement holds any portent for the future, getting reliable, non-partisan answers to even basic questions is going to get a lot harder for anyone navigating Amazon’s sprawling online ecosphere.

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