Smart speakers are finding their way into more and more households, with around 120 million in the US alone. However, this does not mean that there has been no doubt and controversy surrounding these devices. By now, many of us are familiar with the case in which Alexa accidentally recorded a private conversation of a family and sent it to a contact. It's enough to shudder over everyone's back, but do not throw your Amazon Echo into the trash. There are steps you can take to protect your privacy – namely, reviewing and deleting interactions that Alexa has recorded.
Is Alexa talking?
First of all, we need to break the myth that your Amazon Echo records everything close to it. The device usually responds only when it hears the activation word Alexa (or the alternate activation word Computer, Amazon, or Echo). However, it records most of the interactions you have with the language assistant – whether it's Amazon orders or a song request. While this may seem like trivial data, it is understandable if you find it uncomfortable to save those interactions in the cloud.
There may also be situations where an Alexa-enabled device incorrectly picks up words as words. "Alexa" or variations thereof are relatively common names in certain countries, and certain word combinations may sound close enough to "Alexa" to trigger a recording. In these cases, the device may inadvertently record a conversation that was not intended for recording.
In some cases, the records are forwarded to Amazon even though most of your Alexa commands are processed by the software clerks. Amazon does this to improve its machine learning algorithms. An "extremely small selection" of voice commands is therefore heard by humans, but Amazon insists that records be completely anonymized.
How can you delete Alexa records?
The good news is that you can delete voice recordings at any time. A quick and easy way to delete recently captured files is to ask Alexa to do this for you. After turning on the setting in the Alexa app, you can just say, "Alexa, delete everything I said today."
For more control over the conversations that Alexa records, you can use the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet. Here's what you need to do:
- Open the Alexa app on your smartphone and sign in to your Amazon account if you need it. Make sure it's the same account connected to your smart speaker.
- Tap the menu button and select Settings at the bottom of the sidebar.
- Tap Alexa Account then Alexa Privacy.
- From there, you can tap View language history to see a list of the Alexa recordings of all your Echo devices. At the top of the screen, you can also change the date range of recordings.
- To delete a recording, simply tap the check box on the left and then Delete Selected Records at the top of the page.
If you do not want to review records, but only want to delete them in bulk, you can use a different method. Just open the page with content and devices from Amazon on your PC and go to your devices . Click the smart speaker whose history you want to delete, and then click Manage Voice Memos. A quick alert screen with a delete button will appear. Just click on delete and you're done!
These are our tips for reviewing and deleting Alexa records. Have you found interesting pictures while reviewing your history? Let us know in the comments.