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Girls Named 'Alexa' Bullied in UK, Parents Urge Amazon to Change Voice Assistant’s Name

Representative image.

Representative image.

The situation is so bad that some parents have gone ahead to change the legal name of their daughters from 'Alexa'.

Amazon has landed in a new problem because of its virtual assistant, Alexa. This time neither any security lapse was found nor any bug was discovered in the Alexa-run devices, but the name itself is posing trouble for the company. This is one issue that Amazon might be unsure of how to solve. Many parents of girls named Alexa in the United Kingdom are upset as the company’s device is causing problems for their children. They have reported that their daughters are being bullied in schools because they share their names with Amazon’s voice assistant.

Several parents reported that their kids frequently faced jokes where peers shouted their names and issued a command. A parent told the BBC that her daughter, who was named Alexa, was abused and bullied as soon as she started secondary school.

The situation is so bad that some parents have gone ahead to change the legal name of their daughters since they claim the barrage of Alexa jokes is “relentless”, reported the BBC. The parents are now calling on Amazon to consider changing the default wake word for its devices to a name that is non-human.

The name became popular after the company announced its voice assistant services in 2014. All the Echo and Echo Dot devices respond to commands that start with the word Alexa. The name is used in many households to wake up their devices as in recent years more and more people are using voice-activated smart speakers.

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This situation has put Amazon in a unique dilemma as the options include either changing the name of their virtual assistant or telling parents to not name their kids Alexa. Both the solutions are problematic.

When these reports reached Amazon, it said in a statement that it is “saddened” by these accounts and that alternative words for waking up the devices are also available, including Echo, Computer and Amazon. It further stated they are looking for ways to offer their customers more choices for giving a command to the voice assistant.

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first published:July 06, 2021, 13:54 IST