Mum's horror after Alexa tells girl, 10, to do potentially deadly act

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There are plenty of dangerous trends and challenges that circle the internet, but one mum was shocked to find her smart speaker suggested an activity that could be potentially fatal to her 10-year-old.

Kristin Livdahl and her daughter had been playing with the family's Amazon 'smart speaker' on a rainy day, asking the so-called voice assistant for challenges.

“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,” Ms Livdahl wrote on Twitter.

A screesnshot of the challenge Alexa gave a 10-year-old.
Ms Livdahl was shocked with the challenge Alexa suggested for her daughter. Source: Twitter

She then explained Alexa gave her a challenge that it had "found on the web". Unfortunately, the challenge could have killed her daughter.

Speaker prompted her to take part in 'outlet challenge'

Alexa told the girl to put a coin in an electrical socket — replying to the request with: "Plugin a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs."

The "outlet challenge"— which was popular in the US on the video-sharing app in 2020 — involved inserting a plug of a mobile device charger partially into an outlet, leaving the metal prongs still exposed. TikTokers were then taking a coin and using it to touch the exposed prongs.

The result is the outlet sparking, which could potentially lead to electrocution or a fire.

In 2020, schools in the US issued warnings to staff and students after several reports of injuries from the trend.

"The electricity propels the charger and the coin—now the coin is molten metal at this point—outwards. It could easily get you in the face, get you in the eye," Massachusetts Fire Chief Ed Bradley told WBZ after responding to an incident involving the trend at a local school.

"It could cause blindness and it could cause your clothing to catch on fire. 

"The other issue can be that you do damage to some electrical wiring behind the wall and a fire could be undetected and burning in the walls, endangering everyone in the building."

TikTok banned searching for the challenge, removing videos associated with it. Although YouTube compilations of the trend are still available online.

Screenshots of a Tiktok video that was put on YouTUbe showing a burned power socket next to a boy with bandages on his face warning people not to do the challenge.
Most of the videos have been deleted off the app, however some still available on YouTube show the challenge. Source: YouTube/ TopTikToks

Amazon took 'swift action' to fix it

Amazon told the BBC in a statement that it had updated Alexa to prevent the assistant from recommending dangerous challenges and activities in the future.

"Customer trust is at the centre of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers," a spokesperson said.

"As soon as we became aware of this error, we took swift action to fix it."

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