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Amazon’s algorithm reportedly suggests shoppers purchase items that can be used for explosives in the ‘frequently bought together’ section

Amazon insists all of its products adhere to legal guidelines, and that it works closely with law enforcement agencies if they need assistance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 September, 2017, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 September, 2017, 5:08pm

By Kate Taylor

Amazon’s algorithm seems to be suggesting customers buy potentially dangerous groupings of products on the e-commerce site.

When viewing select products, Amazon’s algorithm suggests that shoppers pair them with products that can be used to create home-made explosives, reports the U.K.’s Channel 4 News.

According to the broadcaster, Amazon’s “frequently bought together” section for certain chemicals encourages customers to purchase other ingredients that can be combined to create potentially deadly reactions.

For example, a common type of chemical compound that is available on Amazon can be combined with Elmer’s glue to produce magnetic “slime,” an arts-and-crafts item. However, it can also be combined with somewhat common household products to produce thermite, a potentially dangerous and explosive composition.

A search of Amazon’s “frequently bought together” suggestions for this compound by Business Insider revealed both items — harmless and potentially dangerous — appearing as suggested items.

According to Channel 4, other chemical compounds (which the station chose not to name) also had steel ball bearings, push button switches, and battery connectors and cables listed in the “customers who bought this item also bought” section.

None of these things are illegal to purchase in the UK or US, and the ingredients for something like thermite are easily searchable online, as are videos of the chemical reaction burning through everyday items — some of them posted by school science clubs. Breaking Bad fans might recall that Walter White used thermite to break into a chemical storage facility — getting the key components out of a toy.

Amazon told Channel 4 that all products adhere to legal guidelines, and that the company works closely with law enforcement agencies if they need assistance. The e-commerce giant did not respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.

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