Your Amazon Alexa has the ability to say some creepy things, but what one told a 10-year-old girl is outright disturbing.
Twitter user Kristin Livdahl took to the social media platform on Sunday to break down what happened. Her daughter asked Alexa for a challenge, and the response wasn’t only surprising, but dangerous.
“The challenge is simple,” said Alexa. “Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
An article on news and lifestyle site Our Community Now refers to this as a TikTok “outlet challenge” that was trending in 2020. As for how it got to Alexa: Amazon states that Alexa gets its information from the company’s cloud, but the details are vague. Mashable reached out to Amazon for comment. Presumably, however, there’s no human oversight.
Livdahl was thankfully there when this happened, she explained on Twitter, and she and her daughter had a conversation about not trusting information from the internet or the device.
Touching an electrical outlet with metal can result in a fire or an electric shock. Over 5,000 people were hospitalized in 2015 due to injuries associated with electrical outlets, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Thousands are typically admitted to the ER every year for the same reason, according to updated information from NEISS’s online database.
Amazon Support tweeted asking Livdahl to reach out about the incident, and an Amazon spokesperson told Mashable that the response has been removed from Alexa.
“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers,” said the spokesperson. “As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.”
Mashable tested the query on Tuesday, and the answer indeed changed. Now, Alexa merely says “give me a challenge that makes me think”:
Considering how Alexa usage is dropping, it seems that we’re all thinking about the purpose of the smart home device lately.