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Amazon issued an apology this week after one of their voice assistant devices equipped with Alexa challenged a 10-year-old girl to a potentially fatal TikTok trend– to put a penny on an exposed plug prong that was half inserted into an electric outlet.
Thankfully, the young girl — whose identity has not been revealed — was being supervised by her mother Kristin Livdahl on Sunday when she asked Amazon Alexa for a challenge.
Alexa responded, suggesting that the ten-year-old, “Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs.”
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
“OMFG My 10 year old just asked Alexa on our Echo for a challenge and this is what she said,” Livdahl wrote on Twitter with an accompanying screenshot.
“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,” the Alexa replied to the young girl’s request.
Livdahl immediately intervened by shouting, “No, Alexa, No!”
The mother explained that she and her daughter had been doing physical challenges earlier on in the day as a fun, indoor activity because the weather was poor.
“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,” Livdahl told the BBC.
Amazon’s Twitter account responded to the mother’s tweet on Monday.
“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: amzn.to/3sGEtkT. We hope this helps. -Daragh,” a company representative wrote.
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://t.co/YlLYrTtGzy. We hope this helps. -Daragh
— Amazon Help (@AmazonHelp) December 27, 2021
The company reportedly took swift action to remedy the situation.
“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,” they told the BBC in a statement.
The device pulled the suggested challenge from an internet article about parents condemning the viral TikTok challenge last year.
While this incident did not end in tragedy, it easily could have.
“I know you can lose fingers, hands, arms,” Michael Clusker, station manager at Carlisle East fire station, told The Press newspaper in Yorkshire in 2020 in response to the challenge, “The outcome from this is that someone will get seriously hurt.”
“Every year there are numbers of people killed by electrical shocks. It can kill you if it gets you right. Anything that interferes with electrical equipment – unless you are a qualified electrician – is very dangerous,” Clusker added.
Livdahl said even without supervision, her daughter is “too smart to do something like that.”
Clusker, however, offered some words of advice to those considering participating in dangerous internet challenges.
“We would encourage people not to mimic or copy some of the reckless stunts that are commonly viewed on social media,” he said, urging individuals to take responsibility for their actions.
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