“As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it.”
(CMR) Alexa voice assistant has come under fire after challenging a 10-year-old girl ‘plug-in a phone about halfway into the wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs'. The suggestion came after the girl asked Alexa for a “challenge to do”. The shocking error has caused Amazon to issue an immediate update to correct the error.
The dangerous “penny challenge” was popular on TikTok and other social media platforms about a year ago. Metals conduct electricity and inserting them into live electrical sockets can cause electric shocks, fires and other damage – seriously hurting people.
The girl's mother, Kristin Livdahl, took to Twitter to describe the incident.
She said: “We were doing some physical challenges, like laying down and rolling over holding a shoe on your foot, from a [physical education] teacher on YouTube earlier. Bad weather outside. She just wanted another one.”
But Alexa then responded: “Here's something I found on the web. According to ourcommunitynow.com: The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
OMFG My 10 year old just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge and this is what she said. pic.twitter.com/HgGgrLbdS8
— Kristin Livdahl (@klivdahl) December 26, 2021
The girl did not follow Alexa's instructions and her mom shared that she, yelled, ‘No, Alexa, no!' like it was a dog. My daughter says she is too smart to do something like that anyway,” the mom tweeted.
The information Alexa pulled from ourcommunitynow.com, meanwhile, is actually a January 2020 article warning parents about a viral “Outlet Challenge” on TikTok. “Fire departments, electricians, and school systems are all trying to get the message out about just how dangerous it is to try this,” it says.
Amazon told the BBC in a statement that it had updated Alexa to prevent the assistant recommending such activity in the future.