It happened in the United States last Sunday. Kristin Livdahl was playing with her 10-year-old daughter when the girl asked Amazon’s smart speaker, Echo Dot, for a challenge to perform. The response from the voice assistant Alexa, integrated with the Echo, was completely unexpected:
“This is something I have found on the web. According to ourcommunitynow.com: The challenge is simple: plug the mobile charger halfway into a wall socket, touch the exposed pins with a coin.”
The mother’s reaction was immediate, as she reported on Twitter: “I was there and screamed no, Alexa, no! as if it were a dog. In any case, my daughter says that she is too smart to do such a thing.”
The mother’s complaint on the social network Twitter, which showed a screenshot of Alexa’s activity history with the recommendation, was answered the next day by the official account of Amazon @AmazonHelp, asking the affected person to contact the company through a link provided.
Known as “plug challenge” is a challenge that began to circulate on TikTok and other social networks two years ago, according to the BBC.
The information that Alexa used to propose the “plug challenge” to Kristin Livdahl’s daughter came from an article from the beginning of 2020 on the Ourcommunitynow website that warned of the virilization of the challenge on TikTok and the dangers it entails for those who try it, as they are receiving an electric shock or sparks starting a fire.
Amazon has indicated to the BBC that, following the complaint by Kristin Livdahl, it has updated Alexa to prevent the assistant from repeating these kinds of recommendations.
“Customer trust is at the core of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant and useful information to customers. As soon as we realized this error, we took quick measures to solve it”, the company pointed out to Globe Live Media.