“It’s like she reads our minds.”
If you’ve seen the ad for Amazon, you know it’s ironic. Scarlet Johansen and husband Colin Jost get read by Alexa.
That’s not true of course. But Alexa doesn’t necessarily need to read your mind to know what you’re thinking. These devices are always listening for his wake word. When she thinks someone is saying it, she records the audio.
Everything is recorded and saved. And, in some cases, Amazon employees are listening in an effort to improve understanding and responses from Alexa.
If this idea scares you, you should listen to what Alexa has recorded. Things you may have said, not knowing Alexa was recording. Open the Alexa app on a phone and choose “more” in the lower right corner, then “activity”. Tap “Voice History” to see everything she’s heard you say and recorded. It goes back to when you first got an Alexa device. Some are marked “not intended for Alexa” and include a very brief snippet.
You can delete them individually or all at once. Although Amazon warns if you do so, your experience will be degraded.
You can also download all data recorded by Amazon. Do this on a web browser. You will need to request the data, which can take up to 30 days.
If you want to remove all your personal information from Amazon, according to its help and privacy page, you will need to close your account. Using these devices is convenient, but like any device that records us or tracks us, to use them you just have to trust them.