Amazon Updates Alexa with Important Election Info

Given the imminent midterm election, Amazon has updated Alexa with important election information. Many people already use Alexa’s Q&A feature in lieu of a traditional Internet search to find out everything from football scores to Oscar nominees, and politics is no exception.

“Customers have always asked Alexa a lot of questions about major current events…we saw high customer engagement with the 2016 presidential debates and election, and we thought we could expand and improve upon the experience,”

said Bill Barton, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa information in an email to Mashable.

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Amazon Updates Alexa with Election Information

Given the 2016 election’s various controversies surrounding false information, Amazon has assembled a “war room” of writers, data scientists, and engineers to ensure that Alexa’s knowledge remains accurate. Amazon’s goal is to provide Alexa with data from “[the] most credible, neutral sources,” according to Barton. To obtain objective election information, Amazon has partnered with non-profits like the Associated Press, the independent news cooperative, and Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan digital encyclopedia of American politics.

Content-wise, Amazon has focused on three things- voting, real-time election, results, and post-election outcomes. Not sure how to register to vote or what time the polls open? Alexa can guide you using information from Ballotpedia. For Election Day updates in real time, Alexa will pull data from the Associated Press. Post-election, users will be able to ask Alexa for the outcome. On top of the voice information, Amazon has added some election-related visual graphs to accompany answers on Echo Show devices. This is part of Amazon’s larger push to include visuals on all informational requests, according to their official blog.

Alexa cannot, however, answer all election-related questions. Amazon has chosen not to include information about controversial voter-ID laws or what voting machines will be used in each area. “We focused on the areas of where we see the most customer interest and need,” said Barton. Amazon must achieve a delicate balance of providing answers for customers and staying politically neutral.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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