Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is in the news again, and for all the wrong reasons. A Twitter user details the ordeal wherein her 10-year-old daughter asked Alexa for a challenge. In response, the voice assistant asked her to “plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
Thankfully, the child’s mother, Kristin Livdahl, was around at the time, leading to timely intervention. Livdahl said in a subsequent tweet that she had “another good conversation about not trusting anything from the internet or Alexa,” adding, “No attempt was made to try this.”
OMFG My 10 year old just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge and this is what she said. pic.twitter.com/HgGgrLbdS8Advertisement
— Kristin Livdahl (@klivdahl) December 26, 2021
The response provided by Alexa comes from a 2020 article on the website OurCommunityNow.com. This article references the viral (and dangerous) TikTok trend called the “outlet challenge” from last year. Android Police notes that the challenge was also trending on Twitter as multiple fire departments sent out warnings against carrying out the challenge.
Amazon has reportedly fixed the bug
While the child was unhurt in this latest incident, this just shows the vulnerability of voice assistants in home environments. Amazon has since issued a statement to Indy100 claiming that the company has already fixed this potentially dangerous loophole.
“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers. As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it,” a company spokesperson said.
Dangerous challenges have long been a concern for platforms like TikTok. The company recently pledged to take stricter against such events by updating its Safety Center.
TikTok said it is implementing tech that can detect an increase in “violating content” via hashtags. This includes hashtags related to challenges and hoaxes or misinformation spreading on the app.
Under these new revisions, a user searching for content or hashtags identified as a hoax or a harmful challenge will see a warning label. The company will also provide links to the Safety Center for additional information.
This comes after a TikTok survey found that 31% of the teens took part in an online challenge. Meanwhile, 32% of the respondents said the challenges came with some risk.