Amazon’s flagship product – Alexa, has been the talk of the town for some while now. It has made use of your house very easy and convenient, plus you get to hear great jokes and search the web with your voice, get weather and traffic updates whenever you want, and many more amazing features at the simple use of your voice. All you have to do is call out “Alexa!” and the device gets active and attentive to everything you say immediately after.
All this is great for convenience, but what about privacy? How well can we trust it? If you want to know the truth behind Alexa, you’ll need to learn some truth about how it functions first.
Further reading: What Is Alexa And What Does Alexa Do?
How Does Alexa Work?
The gist of it is that you “wake up” Alexa with a specific word (the default is “Alexa,” but you can change it via the Alexa app) and then ask it a question or give a command. Alexa then processes your words and makes sure it heard you right. Then, it connects to amazon’s cloud network and requests a reply from you. When the cloud gives back a reply, the same is forwarded to you via speakers.
This is a simple enough process, but the issue is that Alexa records all your commands and requests after being woken up by its wake-up word. You might think that it’s just general stuff that you have specifically asked Alexa to give you anyway and isn’t much different from any of your google searches. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The Problem With Alexa
Alexa is always awake. Always. It simply turns off its listening feature until it hears a wake-up call from you. And sometimes, it just so happens that Alexa “thinks” that you have called out to it. And suddenly wakes up and starts recording and listening to you and your companion, whoever’s with you talking at that time.
Many people had unknowingly recorded their entire conversations and were embarrassed by them. Some of these recordings are sent to Amazon to evaluate Alexa’s speech recognition skills and better the program. So, there’s an excellent chance that a person has heard all your conversations that you wouldn’t want to be heard.
If this wasn’t enough, there was once an incident where a women’s recordings were sent to her husband’s colleague living in a different country entirely! And the worst part is, the two people had never met. Amazon later clarified that Alexa had mistakenly heard a series of commands and then sent all these recordings as a voice message to the person.
The Solution Better Works With Alexa
The main issue here is Alexa’s tendency to always be on the lookout for possible commands. So making sure you have given it specific instructions beforehand can help solve the problem a little. The next issue is Alexa recording your commands and conversations and sending them to Amazon or, god forbid, your spouse’s colleague!
This awkward situation can be avoided by going on to the Alexa app and disabling “Human grading.” Alexa will no longer send your recordings to the main server for Amazon employees to hear you. But, to keep it from sending it to anyone else, try going onto the same app and deleting all your previous conversations from time to time.
Further reading: Can Alexa Call For Help?
How To Check Out Your Private Conversations
Like I said before, Alexa will record everything you say to it. Thus, almost like a Google search, there will be a lot of recording to go through in a short period. Deleting them can be the best way to make sure no one has access to them. But how do you access them? And when you do, how should you delete those recordings?
- Open the Alexa app from your mobile device
- Next, click on the menu bar on the left side of the screen.
- From the given options, pick settings.
- You will now see a list of several options to choose from. Select “Alexa privacy” and then select “review voice history.”
- Now you will see a list of all voice recordings made by your Alexa. To listen to them, just tap on a recording and hit the play icon that appears next to it.
- Alexa does flag all recordings that it feels weren’t meant for it. These will be under the “Audio was not intended for this device” section.
- You can hear those recordings too, but the text won’t appear to you immediately like before.
How To Delete Your Private Conversations
Now that you have found your recordings, time to delete them.
- Individually select each recording one by one by pressing on the empty boxes next to them to “tick” them.
- Once you have made your selection, go to the top of the page and press “Delete selected recordings.”
- Or, you could also choose a date range like “today,” “yesterday,” and any time frame between two dates and press “delete all recordings.”
- If you have multiple devices connected in different places and want to delete the recordings only on a few particular speakers, choose “filter by device” and select the speaker(s) you would like to delete your recordings from. The process is the same for any Alexa device.
- Also, if you turn ON “detection” by voice on this page, you could give Alexa commands like, “delete the last things I said” or ‘ delete everything recorded today” and more and make the process all the easier.
It is a genuine issue to have your conversations recorded by Alexa without your knowledge or consent. And therefore, you must be a lot more careful to ensure that you don’t activate it without cause. All Alexa speakers have a blue light on their heads that’s active only when Alexa is recording. Keeping a lookout for it would be a great help! And even if you do get yourself registered, the process to delete everything you said is simple as well.