Amazon Alexa records your private chats – here's who can listen to them
YOUR Amazon Echo speakers sometimes inadvertently records your conversations and stores them on the device.
The gadgets' smart assistant, Alexa, is designed to only listen when it hears the wake word – but every so often tunes in by mistake.
Why does Alexa record you?
Your Echo gadget listens to what you're saying whenever it hears the wake word, "Alexa". It lets the device know that you're about to bark a request at it.
Users issue these requests to ask Alexa to play games, find music or search the internet for trivia.
A small number of your interactions are recorded by your Echo device and later used by Amazon to improve its voice recognition systems.
The Echo lets you know it is recording by emitting a ping and a blue light.
Alexa will sometimes record you without your knowledge because the assistant incorrectly thought you said its name.
It means Echo devices sometimes record people's conversations without their knowledge. Both you and Amazon employees can listen to these clips.
Who can listen to your Alexa recordings?
Last year, an ex-Amazon exec admitted that he turns his Alexa off to stop strangers listening in on his conversations.
That's because Amazon sometimes sends your voice clips off to "graders".
These workers will listen to clips to make sure Alexa is working as intended – improving the system all round.
Amazon employs thousands of people around the world to improve Alexa by reviewing its responses to requests made in homes and offices.
The recordings are transcribed, annotated and fed back into the software to improve its response to human speech.
And while many of these recordings are people using their devices as intended, some of them are private conversations captured accidentally by the gadgets.
Thankfully, people working for Amazon only annotate a small fraction of one per cent of voice recordings.
You can listen to your own voice recordings within the Alexa app or your smartphone or tablet.
If you share your Amazon password with friends or family members, they also have access to recordings on your account.
How to find Alexa voice recordings
First, open the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.
Tap into the menu bar on the left-hand side and then tap Settings.
Next tap Alexa Privacy, and then go into Review Voice History.
This is where you can check up on all of the voice recordings Alexa has captured for you.
To listen to the Alexa recordings, simply tap the text you want to hear, and then click the tiny Play icon.
Sometimes Alexa will flag when it thinks an audio recording wasn't intended her.
The text won't display in that instance, but you can still listen to the audio file.
How to delete Alexa voice recordings
To delete audio recordings, individually tap on the empty boxes next to each recording to "tick" them.
Then go to the top of the list and press "Delete Selected Recordings" to delete those individual files.
You can also select a date range like "Today", "This Week" or "All History" and then press "Delete All Recordings" for that date range.
If you just want to delete recordings for a specific speaker, you can tap Filter By Device and choose the exact Alexa gadget you're looking for.
You can also enable deletion by voice on this page.
If you toggle it on, you can delete recordings using voice commands.
Just say either "Alexa, delete what I just said" or "Alexa, delete everything I said today".
Customers can also choose not to have their voice recordings saved at all by opening the Alexa app and heading to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data > Choose how long to save recordings. Select Don't save recordings and tap Confirm.
Should you delete Alexa voice recordings?
You should be rightly worried about Amazon storing a giant log of your voice recordings.
Major social media firms have suffered hacks and leaks, so you're never truly safe.
But deleting your voice recordings isn't always the best idea.
Though deletion will boost your privacy, it may make your experience with Alexa worse.
Alexa learns your voice and habits over time to improve the service.
By removing all of your voice recordings, you undo a lot of that learning.
That said, Alexa will still function just fine even if she's not saving everything you say.
The choice is yours: Do you want maximum privacy or the best service?
In other news, Apple customers in the UK are facing delays of up to five weeks to receive the latest iPhones due to a shortage of key components.
Facebook removes less than three per cent of violent hate-filled posts, a whistleblower has claimed.
The social media giant plans to change its company name as part of a rebrand expected to be announced in the coming days.
And, an American coffee shop owner has claimed that Facebook is spying on her through her smartphone.
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