Alexa error 'fixed' after smart speaker tells child to do dangerous 'penny challenge'

A parent says Amazon’s Alexa told their child to place a penny to the exposed prongs of a switched on phone charger.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 7:13 am

The potentially dangerous dare came after the 10-year-old reportedly asked the Echo device to “tell me a challenge to do”.

The smart speaker then pulled the idea from a website, ourcommunitynow.com, and replied: “The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”

In a statement to the BBC, Amazon accepted the interaction and said it had taken “swift action” to fix the “error”.

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An Amazon Alexa reportedly told the 10-year-old child to touch a penny to the exposed prongs of a plugged in phone charger as a "challenge".

Asking Alexa for a challenge now reportedly no longer works.

The girl's mother, Kristin Livdahl, described the incident on Twitter along with screenshots of the device’s responses as proof.

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."

However, she said her daughter was “too smart for something like that” and did not complete the challenge.

The dangerous trend, known as the “penny challenge”, was circulated on TikTok and other social media platforms about a year ago.

Amazon told the BBC in a statement: “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.”

The “penny challenge” has been criticised by fire services internationally for the risks it poses to human life.

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