A San Diego TV station sparked complaints this week — after an on-air report about a girl who ordered a dollhouse via her parents’ Amazon Echo caused Echoes in viewers’ homes to also attempt to order dollhouses.
Telly station CW-6 said the blunder happened during a Thursday morning news package about a Texan six-year-old who racked up big charges while talking to an Echo gadget in her home. According to her parents’ Amazon account, their daughter said: “Can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” Next thing they knew, a $160 KidKraft Sparkle Mansion dollhouse and four pounds of sugar cookies arrived on their doorstep.
During that story’s segment, a CW-6 news presenter remarked: “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse’.”
That, apparently, was enough to set off Alexa-powered Echo boxes around San Diego on their own shopping sprees. The California station admitted plenty of viewers complained that the TV broadcast caused their voice-controlled personal assistants to try to place orders for dollhouses on Amazon.
Lesson learned: voice-command ordering is ON by default on these devices.
Just one more precaution we’ll have to learn as we surround ourselves with the Internet of God Knows What.