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With reference to this Stack Exchange Internet of Things question and this news article, which is only one of many:

Is there evidence that when a news anchor uttered the words "Alexa, buy me a dollhouse", that

plenty of viewers complained that the TV broadcast caused their voice-controlled personal assistants to try to place orders for dollhouses on Amazon

Is this true, or is it just a media flurry? Snopes is strangely quiet on the topic.


[Update] The BBC have posted a video, but I am behind a firewall and cannot see if it is only the original broadcast, or if it is a report that the broadcast triggered ordering. Can someone help?


[Update++] I suppose that the definitive way to answer this would be for someone with Alexa to watch the video and see what happens.

If it *does* order a dollhouse for you, could you please post a video of that happening?

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    Top tip from personal experience: don't read this news story out loud to someone else while sitting next to your Alexa... – A E Jan 9 '17 at 14:33
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    I already dislike voice controls, and this just one more reason to. – John Dvorak Jan 9 '17 at 15:34
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    I am seeing A LOT of news channels reporting this with video. What would make an acceptable answer though as I think the crux of the claim is that the video caused a lot of attempted orders on Amazon, and I think that information will be mostly private. – JasonR Jan 9 '17 at 15:55
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    Well, the Register links straight to the original source, which is the TV station reporting on its own report: cw6sandiego.com/… So no great mystery about where the story started. That article lists Twitter and Facebook contacts for the author, one Carlos Correa, so maybe he would be able to provide more details? There's also a video attached to that post, which I haven't watched through, so there may be more in there. – IMSoP Jan 9 '17 at 18:47
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    Given that it's literally one click away from the article you posted yourself, it seems like a rather feeble answer. But since there's so many upvotes, maybe I should watch the video and summarise the key points for everyone who's landed here. – IMSoP Jan 10 '17 at 12:54
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TL;DR: Yes the incident (viewer complaints) occurred and is confirmed by a reporter Carlos Correa working in the CW6 television station in San Diego.

Jim Patton and Lynda Martin the anchors from CW6 News in the AM were talking about a child who accidentally bought a dollhouse and four pounds of cookies. As soon as Jim Patton said “I love the little girl saying Alexa ordered me a dollhouse”, viewers from San Diego started complaining that their Amazon Echo devices had tried to order doll houses through Alexa the voice service that powers Amazon Echo.

Previously, it is also noted through CBS11 televsion station that a 6-year-old Brooke Neitzel had ordered $160 KidKraft Sparkle Mansion dollhouse and four pounds of sugar cookies by the same method. Alexa doesn’t recognize the speaker's specific voice and Stephen Cobb a researcher for IT security firm ESET advises to change the default settings in such voice enabled devices to avoid these kind of occurences.

“All of these devices which record the internet of things will have some sort of website control, some sort of setting, sometimes the setting is on the device that is communicating. So you need to go into these settings and look at what they are, and what you can change,” said Cobb. Cobb says the Federal Trade Commission is already looking into voice-command devices and toys to make sure the technology is safe and secure. For now, he recommends do your research to keep your personal information controlled and protected. “Down the road the technology will be more sophisticated where it will be able to identify certain individuals and register people can access it,” he said. Source: News anchor sets off Alexa devices around San Diego ordering unwanted dollhouses

Referring to Amazon voice Purchasing Settings, after registration of the Alexa device by the owner, voice purchasing is on by default. It should either be turned off to avoid accidental voice enabled purchases such as the ones mentioned above or a confirmatory code should be entered for completion of purchase.

Amazon says shopping settings can be managed via its Alexa app, including turning off voice purchasing and creating a confirmation code before any order. The company also says any “accidental” physical orders can be returned for free. Source: News anchor sets off Alexa devices around San Diego ordering unwanted dollhouses

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    Kind of related here. An advert for the Xbox One on launch had Aaron Paul saying "Xbox On", which resulted in owners of Xbox Ones having their consoles turned on whenever the advert appeared on TV. This happen to me several times. – Snow Jan 11 '17 at 16:01

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