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To not be paranoid about Alexa?

106 replies

PoxAlert · 28/10/2018 21:53

My husband seems way OTT worried that an Amazon echo is going to listen in to our life.

I'm of the opinion that.

1 - surely it won't/can't/isn't allowed.

2 - we're fucking boring anyway. Not like I read our our credit card numbers etc.

And if I do just go ahead and buy myself one (mainly for Spotify) will I regret getting an echo dot over a standard echo. Is the music quality bad?

OP posts:

Satsumaeater · 30/10/2018 16:02

For those of you who have an Alexa (or loads of them!), why

I got one free with my Vitality health insurance.

Now I wonder why they were giving them away?

I never use it. But she did spring into life today, I didn't say her name but I obviously did use one of the trigger words.


inchoccyheaven · 30/10/2018 16:12

Our Alexa often ignores us even when we shout her name several times. She's very disobedient !
She mainly plays us music although sometimes ask her a question we need answer to.


SplashingAroundTown · 30/10/2018 16:43

Thanks to those who told me what your Alexa does. I see the appeal as a glorified alarm clock but turning on/off the tv, lights, kettle etc doesn’t appeal. I’m ok with a little manual labour Wink


JessieMcJessie · 30/10/2018 17:01

Regarding that New Scientist article, how exactly is Alexa going to be trying to sell me cough drops when I sound a bit hoarse? She doesn’t speak unless spoken to and certainly doesn’t just randomly pipe up offering to sell me things. I’ve never heard her play an ad.

We love her in our house, it’s brilliant for playing nursery rhymes on demand for my toddler while I am cooking and he is playing in the kitchen. He thinks that her voice is coming from the microwave though!


Letsgetreadytorumba · 30/10/2018 17:44

I live alone, all Alexa hears is me snoring 😁


LittleMissMarker · 30/10/2018 18:18

how exactly is Alexa going to be trying to sell me cough drops when I sound a bit hoarse?

She can't, by herself. As things get more integrated cough drops might pop onto the suggestions for your online shopping list. Or get fed back to your healthcare app. Or whatever.


PinguDance · 30/10/2018 18:32

I went to the stasi museum in Berlin a couple of years ago and the most unsettling thing about it was how all that information the stasi had to really work for - with all these tricks like photographing post boxes to see who was sending letters and sneaking into peoples houses to big the walls etc. which seem almost adorably old fashioned now, we literally have all that information in our pockets on our phone and people are buying and selling it. I came to think of my iPhone as my ‘stasi in my pocket’ - I still use of. It I’ve tried to disable most of the default monitoring settings.

If you were in Brazil with this new president for example- would you buy an Alexa?


PinguDance · 30/10/2018 18:38

Also, and I’m pretty sure this is a thing and not something I’m making up from underneath my tin hat, Facebook’ ‘Tag your friends’ feature provided ‘a shit tonne’ of data that went into pioneering facial recognition- something that I find very alarming


PinguDance · 30/10/2018 18:39

So sorry for drawn out posting - the thing I’d be worrries about with Alexa is voice recognition


tor8181 · 30/10/2018 20:49

cant say about those devices but a phone defo does

my mother and sister was talking about washable period pads the other day when i was in the room, as i dont have them or used any form of protection before (see below)i could say much so wasnt in the conversation really just there

today i got a facebook advert for them which threw me a bit as
there is no way ive searched for them anywhere on google to pick up cookies or ad based things

2 it was my sister that brought them up not me so there was no way my phone tracked my voice on voice recognition

the ironic thing is i dont get periods(severe PCOS and never had a period ever and im 38 soon,i still have 2 kids though)so they are irrelevant to me anyway

i told my sister and she said yes she had the same yesterday


DevilThatWearsPrada · 30/10/2018 22:11

@tor8181 - very true. The same thing happened to me more than once. I now keep my phone deep in my purse when having personal discussions.


Cyclingpast · 30/10/2018 22:18

They're surveillance by stealth. They're making them a fun thing to have, or at least they are at the moment.


ladybee28 · 30/10/2018 22:44

Boggles my mind that anyone would have one of these in their home.

And yes, I'd likely belong to the "who'd want to listen to boring old me" brigade, except I've read 1984 and because they're not coming for me (with their Investigatory Powers Bill) YET.

They're not listening specifically to you, no – there's nobody sat in an underground bunker with headphones on while you make dinner – but they are monitoring patterns and habits and trends, and manipulating your environment based on information that's none of their bloody business.

Ramsay Brown from Dopamine Labs, for example, the company who help Facebook become more addictive. They're responsible for the way Facebook and Instagram delay 'likes', showing them to you at moments (times of day, what kind of mood you seem to be in based on the words in your posts and comments) when you're more likely to behave 'well'. It's not paranoia or tin-foil-hatting – they're openly talking about all of this stuff.

It's not ABOUT you. It's about all of us, it's about society, and it's about the privacy and liberty we're willing to give up in return for not having to lift our arm too many times in a day.

I'll wipe my own arse, thanks very much, Alexa.


Ontheboardwalk · 30/10/2018 22:59

My Alexa claimed I called her a bitch, she's a lying bitch. She then took it upon herself to tell me forv ages that’s unacceptable behaviour.

There’s also the one that threw a party and had it large in her owners empty flat

She does come in useful for turning the lamp on though


Aus84 · 30/10/2018 23:03

Yes they listen. Often I'll be having a conversation with DH while our iPhones are lying around - something mundane like 'we need a new dishwasher' and then discuss options. Later I'll be on Facebook and notice the ad's are for whitegood stores.

A friend of mine has a device like Google Home or Alexa - no idea which one - and accidentally made a phone call while arguing with her DH. One of them must have said a keyword to activate it.


RoboJesus · 30/10/2018 23:09

It works by listening to you 24/7 and can be hacked. The biggest concern is burglars can use it to make their job easy


kevinspear · 31/10/2018 05:29

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AJPTaylor · 31/10/2018 06:23

Clearly I am not paranoid enough.
I love Alexa. It is fantastic. Echo in the kitchen replaces the radio. Dots in my bedroom and dd3's replaces alarm clocks.
Both set to remind us about stuff e.g. at 7.15 in the morning "don't forget your guitar" I don't nag the child anymore. Go into room, switch off the seaside sounds that keeps the 10 year old asleep. Wake said child,set timer for 7 minutes and in 8 minutes she is down for breakfast.
It also means I can swerve about between radio 4 and radio 2 very easily.


MaryJenson · 31/10/2018 06:33

I feel like my Mother


Pfingstrose · 31/10/2018 07:17

I just don't see the attraction 🤷‍♀️

Not as though it's difficult to switch regular lights on and off?

Friends of ours have one and delight in showing it off to us behind-the-times-folk every time we visit. Everyone has to stay quiet while they shriek 'ALEXAA!' and by the time the damn thing has actually understood them correctly it would have been quicker to walk the 5 steps to change the music or dim the lights yourself.

I wouldn't overly worry about the listening though.


NRPDad · 31/10/2018 08:55

I struggle to see the benefit of any of these devices other than potentially controlling music with your voice whilst you're busy cooking or something.

Every other use seems very pointless or designed to trap you into a specific ecosystem. E.g. "Alexa order me some extra kitchen roll" - will just result in you paying Amazon more money, even if there price isn't competitive.

Weather - unlock my phone with finger print, tap widget on home screen - it's there.
Smart home stuff - well you need to buy the other smart devices for it to work first. And most of such devices can be controlled from your phone anyway in a couple of taps.
Jokes/trivia etc - completely pointless, just a few taps on the net if you are desperate to know something


JessieMcJessie · 31/10/2018 09:06

NRpDad I take your point, but I was quite happy to pay £40 for something that lets me control music/radio/timers with my voice, doesn’t bother me that I don’t use most of its other functions and they are a bonus if I ever do have some other need that it can fulfil. The shopping list isn’t an Amazon one, it’s just a voice-activated notepad. I think you can easily have one yet still be wise to the more crafty ways it tries to suck you into buying stuff.


Oysterbabe · 31/10/2018 09:24

I don't think anyone buys kitchen roll from Amazon. It is handy that she can add it to your shopping list when you think of it though, which I then refer to and tick off when I'm in Aldi.


NRPDad · 31/10/2018 09:37

@Oysterbabe It was just an example, but Amazon did have one of those dash buttons they released a couple years ago for Andrex toilet roll.

Get the point on the shopping list, but fundamentally as it is tied into your amazon account, the idea is to make it psychologically easier for you to just order rubbish from Amazon whenever you need it with less transparency on price. Alexa isn't going to search the net when you ask her to order some more ink for your printer and say its actually available for £12 cheaper at another major retailer.

All of this data it picks up on you will be monetised to their gain. I'm surprised people pay for the device... it should be given free to Prime customers, because Amazon will make more selling targeted ad services from the data than the cost of the device.


quartzy · 31/10/2018 09:50

There are laws controlling what companies like Google and Amazon can do. The GDPR (general data protection regulation) came in earlier this year and gives you several rights including being able to ask for a copy of the data held and for that data to be deleted (e.g. So you can easily look through and delete what these devices have heard

I'm often sceptical of new technology, especially when it raises questions about privacy, but at the same time some of what's suggested on this thread is so illegal that it'd bring down the companies if they did it!

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