A Minnesota mom was shocked to hear Amazon's Alexa recommend a "penny challenge" to her tween daughter. The 10-year-old had requested a physical activity challenge when the AI suggested a dangerous TikTok trend.
Multiple harmful challenges have surfaced on the platform in recent times - "Dry scooping," "devious lick," "slap a teacher" are examples of such harmful challenges. Authorities even arrested multiple high-schoolers last week for taking part in the "school shooting" challenge.
Tiktok challenges are becoming a parenting nightmare as some of them cause severe injuries to the participants.
What is TikTok's penny challenge?
This was a viral challenge in 2020 dubbed the "penny challenge" or the "outlet challenge." It involved a phone charger, an electric socket, and a penny. A participant had to plug the charger halfway into the socket and then make a penny touch the exposed prongs. This results in short circuits and electric sparks flying out of the socket.
This particular challenge is hazardous as it may lead to electrocution or even start electrical fires. An individual also runs the risk of paralysis and losing body parts in extreme cases.
Alexa recommends the "penny challenge" to a 10-year-old
Kristin Livdahl, a Minnesota mom, encouraged her child to be continuously active. Usually, the child would seek suggestions for fun activities from the Echo-powered Alexa installed in her home. On December 26, when the child asked Alexa to find her a challenge, Alexa responded with a "penny challenge."
Livdahl was shocked at the AI's reply and rushed to intervene. She later posted about her experience on Twitter.
Netizens were also shocked to hear about the challenge. Meanwhile, many debated the use of Alexa in modern living.
Amazon reached out to Livdahl, assuring that they were looking into the issue. In an interview with the BBC, an Amazon representative said:
"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."
Alexa has since been updated to filter out life-threatening challenges.