Amazon, the company responsible for the development of the virtual assistant Alexa, quickly updated its software after it “challenged” a 10-year-old girl to touch a coin to the prongs of a half-inserted plug.
According to a tweet by Kristin Livdahl, 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 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”. Fortunately, she explained, she had been around her child to prevent her from doing anything of the sort.
The dangerous activity, known as “the penny challenge”, began circulating on TikTok and other social media websites about a year ago.
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.
“Customer trust is at the center 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