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A child asking an Amazon Alexa device for a challenge was told to “plug in a phone charger halfway, then touch a penny on the exposed pins.”
The dangerous search result surfaced thanks to something called “the penny challenge” that went viral on TikTok over the previous year. Alexa will respond to general inquiries with a web search, but there’s no guarantee where that result will come from.
“We were doing physical challenges, like lying down and rolling over while holding a shoe on your foot, from a teacher on YouTube earlier,” the child’s mother tweeted. “Bad weather outside. She just wanted another.
According to a reportfrom BBC, the mother was present and was able to tell Alexa to stop when she heard what she was saying. However, she claimed her daughter was smart enough to know better than to perform such a dangerous task.
“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do, and Alexa is designed to deliver accurate, relevant, and useful information to customers,” Amazon said in a statement. “As soon as we became aware of this error, we took prompt action to correct it.”
Smart assistants like Google and Alexa are well known for having various skills that access information on the mostly unfiltered web. While there seem to be some form of reliable sources for these devices, it’s obvious that some bad actors still manage to get through.