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Published January 11th 2017

Amazon Anarchy: The Questions You Probably Shouldn’t Ask Alexa

The Brandwatch React team found people talking about what they ask Alexa to crowd-source the most interesting questions. It turns out kids are most creative

You can ask Alexa anything, but what will please your new smart home overlord most?

After a successful Christmas period and making a huge impression at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, if Alexa isn’t already in your home she might be soon (oh, and in your car too).

inception2The Brandwatch Team decided to pay attention to the post-Christmas jabbering about Amazon’s Alexa and examine the conversation surrounding what people have asked ‘her’.

That’s right, technology ‘listening’ to online conversations about technology that listens to you in your home.

This is what we found.

I asked Alexa to order me…

ask-alexaWe tracked mentions of “asked Alexa” across social media, finding over 800 between 1st December 2016 and 10th January 2017.

The most prominent event in the data was the news coverage surrounding a six-year-old from Dallas who asked Alexa for a dollhouse and, hey presto, it ordered one from Amazon. But that wasn’t the story. TV presenter Jim Patton was relaying the tale on air when he said “I love the little girl saying ‘Alexa order me a dollhouse’,” prompting Amazon Echos in range of a TV broadcasting the show going on to do the same.

Dollhouses aside, Alexa is clearly making life easier for plenty of people.

She can order all of the things you need at your command.

I asked Alexa to play some ?

Musical requests made up around 30% of the data, though not all of the people talking about what they asked for were happy with what they got.

Some of the mentions said Alexa had got their request wrong, but it was the more open-ended requests seemed to wield the most interesting results.

But what about when you’re feeling like a sing-along? Science Alert reported on some comments from Amazon (in amongst an article about the authorities requesting recordings from one of the devices at a crime scene) that some musical fans will find consolation in.

“Amazon also says that Echo only records data when it hears its ‘wake word’ – “Alexa” or “Amazon” – and stops recording once the task is completed. This means that if you asked Alexa to play Beyoncé, it wouldn’t record you singing along afterwards.”

I asked Alexa how to commit murder

A story that has gained the same sort of traction as the dollhouse story in the “asked Alexa” conversation is the one we hinted to above, in which police sought data from an Amazon Echo device located nearby a body found dead in a hot tub. While it is unlikely that anyone asked Alexa how to commit a murder, it is thought that music was streamed during the time of death, potentially with the help of the device, and that recordings could help authorities find a killer. Amazon reportedly denied them access to the device’s information.

While we didn’t find anyone reporting that they’d asked Alexa to commit murder or hide a body, asking Apple’s Siri how to hide a body was once a little joke. That changed when a murder suspect reportedly actually asked Siri where he should hide his actual dead roommate.

One of the family

As Alexa becomes a bigger part of our daily lives, it appears that families are beginning to care for her.

Kids (other than Brooke the dollhouse girl) seem to be big fans. That is unless Alexa misunderstands what they say and sends them to some incredibly NSFW places. Clearly children and Alexa aren’t always the best of combos, so it’s worth keeping an eye on youngsters if they’re going to become friends with your new Echo Dot.

On the other hand, if you’re need a break from the kids just ask Alexa to tell them a story.

What’s the craziest thing your Alexa has provided you with so far?

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? We have plenty more. Email us for more information

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.