Amazon's Alexa suggests dangerous TikTok challenge to 10-year-old girl

As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it: Amazon

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Agencies file
Agencies file

Published: Wed 29 Dec 2021, 10:37 AM

Amazon, the company responsible for the development of the virtual assistant Alexa, quickly updated its software after it suggested the potentially lethal "outlet challenge" to a 10-year-old girl.

According to a tweet by Kristin Livdahl (@klivdahl), her little girl was bored, and had asked Alexa for "a challenge to do", on her Amazon Echo device.

"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." Kristin told the BBC.

Alexa had replied to the request, sourcing information it had found "on the web"; from a site named "The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs". Fortunately, she explained, she had been around her child to prevent her from doing anything of the sort.

The website clarified their stance on their article 'Watch Out, Parents—the Viral 'Outlet Challenge' Has Kids Doing the Unthinkable!' published on their website in January 2020: "In the article, we warned parents of the then-viral challenge, writing--- The resulting sparks are supposed to be cool enough to win you instant internet fame. (Obviously, do NOT attempt this!)...News outlets all over the country are reporting on this disturbing trend. Fire departments, electricians, and school systems are all trying to get the message out about just how dangerous it is to try this."

Most metals are good conductors of electricity, due to which placing the coin in between a phone charger and a live electrical socket can cause serious problems, as seen in the (often lethal) results of the TikTok "outlet challenge", that has been criticized by civilians and officials alike.


"Such a bad idea, for so many reasons." the NH State Fire Marshal's Office (NHFMO) had said in an old Twitter post dated January 23, 2020.

"Customer trust is at the centre 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." Amazon said in a statement, after rectifying the issue.

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