- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon.com Inc. said this week it had modified the way its search engine handles queries for the term “abortion” after receiving an e-mail complaint that the results appeared “biased.”

Until the recent change, a user who visited the Seattle Internet retailer and typed in the word “abortion” received a prompt asking, “Did you mean adoption?” followed by search results for “abortion.”

Spokeswoman Patty Smith said the automated prompt was purely based on technology, and that no human had made the decision to show the question.

“Adoption and abortion are the same except for two keystrokes,” Miss Smith said. “They also, in this case, happen to be somewhat related terms.”

Still, Miss Smith said she and other company officials decided to remove the question after receiving an e-mail complaint and deciding that it raised a valid concern.

Miss Smith said people who search for the word “abortion” would continue to see “adoption” and “pro-life” under the heading “related searches,” which gives people other, similar terms to search. People who type in “adoption” do not see the word “abortion” under “related searches.”

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