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Live News Broadcast Made Amazon's Alexa Order Dollhouses for People

Published On 01/08/2017 Published On 01/08/2017
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Amazon's Echo devices and voice-activated personal assistant, Alexa, make dozens of activities like streaming music, ordering rides on Uber, and, uh, playing porn as easy as saying "Alexa, ..." and simply requesting what you want. Alexa also makes buying stuff on Amazon dangerously easy, which led to not just one, but multiple unwanted orders for dollhouses from the online retail giant last week.

As a report by The Verge explains, it all started when a six-year-old in Dallas, Texas managed to order herself a $150 KidKraft Sparkle Mansion dollhouse and "four pounds of sugar cookies" via her family's new Amazon Echo Dot. Naturally, the story made headlines across the country last week, but a segment on the mishap during The CW6's morning news broadcast in San Diego last Thursday accidentally made it worse. Anchor Jim Patton was wrapping up coverage of the story, when he said, "I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse,'" on live TV, which instantly triggered some viewers' Amazon Echo devices to start ordering dollhouses, too. Really. 

"As soon as Patton said that, viewers all over San Diego started complaining their echo devices had tried to order doll houses," The CW6 said in a subsequent report. "It’s a common problem experts say can be avoided."

Although it's unclear how many viewers were affected across the city and whether the orders were actually submitted, Patton told The Verge his station had received at least a handful of complaints from people whose Echo devices were listening during the broadcast. So far, there's no indication that anyone else received a sparkly dollhouse mansion of their own. 

Of course, settings on the devices can easily prevent accidental purchases, such as adding a passcode or even disabling voice purchases altogether, per the report. But what's next? Coffee commercials triggering Wi-Fi enabled coffee pots to start brewing? Then again, that doesn't sound so bad...

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and can't believe people don't update their settings to prevent mishaps like this. Send news tips to news@thrillist.com and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.

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