DUBAI: Amazon’s virtual assistant told a 10-year-old girl to touch a live plug with a penny when the little girl asked Alexa for a challenge.
The “penny challenge,” as it’s known on the internet, went viral last year. Several media outlets and officials have issued warnings about the dangers of the challenge.
The incident was reported by the girl’s mother Kristin Livdahl on Twitter.
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
An article on a third-party website, Our Community Now, warns parents against the challenge. The headline reads: “Watch Out, Parents—the Viral ‘Outlet Challenge’ Has Kids Doing the Unthinkable!”
Alexa, however, took only an excerpt from the article: “The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
In the article, the next sentence reads: “The resulting sparks are supposed to be cool enough to win you instant internet fame. (Obviously, do NOT attempt this!)”
Some users pointed out that the reason Alexa picked the suggestion is due to its viral nature, which is the problem with the internet today. But, as one user said, “Why then in the love of all that is holy would an organization that should know better like @amazon sell a product that randomly selects content from the mess of the internet to use in conversation with any random person at any level of critical thinking ability?”
Why then in the love of all that is holy would an organization that should know better like @amazon sell a product that randomly selects content from the mess of the internet to use in conversation with any random person at any level of critical thinking ability?
— Nick says you should follow Alex Steffen (@adjectivalnoun) December 27, 2021
The tweet has sparked outrage on the Internet with users chiming in with their experiences. Amazon’s generic reply to Livdahl’s tweet has further upset many users. The response reads: “Hi there. We’re sorry to hear this! Please reach out to us directly via the following link so that we can look into this further with you. We hope this helps.”
“As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it,” Amazon said in a statement to the BBC. “Customer trust is at the centre of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers.”