Amazon issued an apology to Kristin Livdahl after her Alexa suggested a dangerous TikTok challenge to her 10-year-old daughter. Many are furious at the company and are wondering how this could have happened.
On the company’s Twitter account, Amazon said, “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: https://amzn.to/3sGEtkT. We hope this helps. -Daragh.”
The apology came just a day after Kristin Livdahl’s tweet about her Alexa went viral. So far, it has gotten over 2,000 retweets. According to Livdahl, her daughter had asked their Alexa for a challenge to do and the Amazon device told her about the TikTok penny challenge.
Alexa said, “Here’s something I found on the web. According to ourcommunitynow.com: The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
According to Livdahl, her daughter was looking for physical challenges that she could try, and that the Amazon device had previously pulled them from an exercise YouTube video.
The Tiktok challenge, which became popular in January 2020, allows a person to create sparks by placing a penny against the metal prongs of an exposed outlet. Many people who have tried the challenge have gotten injured or started small fires.
Ironically, the website that Alexa referenced warns parents about the challenge and tells them not to let their kids participate.
According to the DailyMail, Amazon said that the challenge is no longer live and that they took care of the problem once they became aware of Kristin Livdahl’s tweet. The company said that Alexa cannot give that answer to people anymore.
The company said that Alexa uses the Bing search engine to come up with answers to people’s questions. The website said, “Our customers want Alexa to get smarter and more helpful to them every day. To do that, we use your requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems using machine learning.”
Many people on Twitter became upset when they learned how Alexa could provide dangerous information to kids.
One person wrote, “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?”
Some commenters joked that Alexa was evil. Someone else mentioned that her Alexa told her kid that Santa wasn’t real.
Another person blamed the existence of clickbait websites that put this dangerous information on the Internet. They said, “This is not an Alexa/Amazon problem. It is an internet literacy, critical thinking problem. What do I mean! This “challenge” existed nowhere before this clickbait aggregator site reported it. Where in turn it was amplified by other clickbait aggregator sites.”
Massachusetts firefighters have warned parents about this TikTok challenge in the past. Two students at Plymouth North High School tried the challenge, and two wall sockets were burned.
Plymouth Fire Chief Ed Bradley said that social media was the cause of the terrifying TikTok challenge going viral. He said, “They see it online, they see someone do it, they start laughing, they run away, and no one gets hurt and they assume the same will happen when they do it, so they think it’s funny to do it in a classroom.”
Plymouth officials issued a statewide statement about the challenge and warned parents and educators about the dangers.