Amazon Alexa’s Deadly Electrocution ‘Challenge’ Suggestion to 10-Year-Old Has Origins in TikTok Trend

Jeff Bezos arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Amazon Alexa’s deadly recommendation that a 10-year-old girl touch a penny to the exposed prongs of an electrified power plug reportedly had its origins in a TikTok trend known as the “penny challenge” that encouraged young people to do the same thing.

As Breitbart News reported earlier, when asked for a fun challenge by the 10-year old, Alexa pulled a random example from the web: touching a penny to the exposed prongs of a phone charger while it is halfway plugged into a power outlet.

The Associated Press

Amazon Echo (AP)

Via Breitbart News:

An owner of an Amazon Alexa home assistant is claiming that the device issued a sick challenge to her 10-year-old daughter. In a video posted online, when the Amazon device was asked for a “challenge,” Alexa replied: “The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” tempting the child to electrocute herself.

Indy100 reports that a woman named Kristin Livdahl recently posted a story about her Amazon Alexa home assistant to Twitter. Livdahl claims that when her 10-year-old daughter asked the device for “a challenge” to do, the device instructed her daughter to poke metal into a power outlet.

The practice of sticking pennies into power outlets recently went viral on TikTok, where it became known as the “penny challenge.”

AFP

TikTok app fined in US for illegally gathering children’s data (© GETTY/AFP/File Joe Scarnici)

Via the New York Post:

This shocking fad involves sliding a penny behind a partially plugged-in phone charger, as seen in multiple viral videos circulating on YouTube and TikTok.

While the prank may seem innocuous, the coin can strike the metal prongs, causing “sparks, electrical system damage, and in some cases, fire,” warned Massachusetts Fire Marshall Peter J. Ostroskey in an advisory issued last year.

Case in point: The marshal obtained a photo of a scorched outlet in Holden reportedly caused by the viral prank. In another incident, a student at Plymouth North High School allegedly started a fire after performing the challenge in what Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Maestas called an “irresponsible act. Fortunately, no one was injured — but the accidental arsonist was charged for the crime.

The tech giant said it had updated Alexa’s programming so that it no longer provides the dangerous recommendation.

“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,” said Amazon.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.

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