In today's technological age, nearly everyone has some sort of smart device, though the Amazon Echo has recently made headlines for a slightly unsettling reason.
A Portland family said that their Echo device secretly recorded one of their conversations and sent it to someone on their contact list, with the person who received the message alerting them as to what had happened. Amazon confirmed the incident, calling it "unlikely" in a statement to CNBC and explaining that the device misheard four different commands that sparked the rare chain of events.
To prevent something like this from happening to you or your family, there are measures you can take to make sure your Alexa doesn't record something you don't want it to, be it a private conversation or pretty much anything you say.
First, avoid saying anything that sounds like the device's trigger word, which is usually "Alexa." If you have someone in your household named Alexa or you often say something similar, you can change the Echo's trigger word to Echo, Amazon or Computer.
New Echo users can avoid the issue of unwanted message sending by simply opting not to give Alexa their contacts list, though if you've already done this, all of your contacts' information is still stored in the device even if you revoke access or delete the app. The only way to permanently remove the information is by calling customer service.
To be sure one of your Echo's multiple speakers isn't listening to you and waiting for its wake-up word, you can mute the device. Amazon Echo has a physical mute button, and the ring around its top will turn red when it is muted. Another option is to make sure its volume is high enough that you hear it asking for prompts like the name of one of your contacts.
You can also turn off calling and messaging features, though to completely turn off voice messaging, you have to call customer service for that option as well.
If you want to know what your Echo has already logged about you, simply open the Alexa app on your smartphone, hit the menu button on the top-left side of the screen, select "Settings" and scroll down to tap "History."0comments
There, you'll be able to see all of the commands your Alexa has heard, which should hopefully be only things you've wanted it to hear, like asking Alexa to turn off the lights or play music.
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