Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon, has recently given a 10-year-old girl a rather peculiar “challenge”, causing them to update its settings immediately. After the girl asked for a “challenge to do” from Alexa, it has suggested the girl touch the prongs of a half-inserted plug using a coin. Suggesting an absurd challenge, the smart speaker spoke: “Plugin a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.” Immediately after the company became aware of the incident, Amazon reportedly fixed the error.
Kristin Livdahl, the mother of the 10-year-old, took to Twitter to describe the incident. She wrote that before the incident, they were doing some physical challenges from a physical education instructor on YouTube. When her daughter wanted another challenge, the echo speaker suggested the above which it had seemingly found “on the web.” While she added that her daughter was too smart to do such a dangerous thing, she intervened in the activity, yelling “No, Alexa, no!”
This life-threatening challenge called “the penny challenge” started spreading on many social media platforms such as TikTok about a year ago. Metal objects such as coins are conductors of electricity. When they come into contact with live electrical sockets, it can result in fires, electrical shocks, and other damages. According to Michael Clusker who’s a station manager at Carlisle East fire station, this activity can even result in serious injuries such as loss of fingers, hands, arms, etc. Fire officials in the US also strongly opposed this challenge.
Releasing a statement, Amazon wrote: “Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers.” It states that they have swiftly fixed the issue as soon as they became aware of it.