How to disable Alexa calling and messaging

This past week, there was an alarming incident reported where a family from Portland’s private conversation was sent to a contact through Alexa. Amazon acknowledged the gaffe and claimed that it was due to an unusual sequence of events where Alexa thought it was summoned to send a recorded message to a contact stored within the family’s Alexa account.

Amazon provided this statement:

“Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right”. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

I am not surprised this happened. In my family, we have had numerous incidents where our Echo or Echo Dot was awakened by something we said even though we don’t recall saying the wake up word.

As an avid Alexa user, I’ve signed up for Alexa Calling & Messaging and only tried it out a few times. It was not a very useful feature as I had mistakenly called a known and even unknown person! My kids tried to reach me by calling, “daddy” through our Echo but it called my friend Debbie. Another time I tried to reach “home” by calling through my Alexa app hoping to reach my kids on my Echo but it called someone random. Till this day, I don’t know who that person was as I don’t have anyone in my contacts list with just “home” on it.

I then searched all over my Alexa app to see how I could disable Alexa Calling & Messaging. I looked through settings, I could only find drop in settings which I already had disabled. Then I realized that I couldn’t completely disable this feature nor could I remove contacts already uploaded to the Amazon server!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When searching Amazon help, this is what they offer:

Add and Edit Your Contacts to the Alexa App

Sync your contacts to the Alexa app to communicate with friends and family using Alexa Calling and Messaging.

To add or edit contacts for Alexa Calling and Messaging, update your phone’s local¬†¬† address book and then open the Alexa app. Contacts from your address book who also use Alexa Calling and Messaging automatically appear in your “Contacts” list in the Alexa app, with the same names from your address book.

If you have multiple members within your household, your Alexa contacts are shared across all devices registered to that account. However, in the Alexa app you can only start conversations with your Alexa contacts.

That’s not good enough.

If you want to completely remove yourself from this service and have contacts removed, follow these instructions:

  1. Contact Amazon Help

 

 

 

You will be asked to sign into your Amazon account.

After signing in, navigate to

-> Devices

-> My device or app is not shown

-> Select your issue as ‘Echo & Alexa’

-> Select, ‘Account & Settings’

 

 

 

 

Note: If you access the contact us page via your computer, you will only have access to chat or receive a call. If you access the contact us page via your phone or tablet, you will have the option to email customer support.

In your message or chat, state the following:

“I want to delete my contacts from my Alexa account and disable Alexa Calling & Messaging feature.”

It should take them a day to respond to your email or immediately if you are using the chat / phone support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the confirmation, log onto your Alexa app and it will prompt you to re-register for Alexa Calling & Messaging service which confirms the service is no longer on your account.

Return the Fire TV to factory settings

Fire TV is great but there may be a time when you want to go back to factory settings. The general consensus is that the Amazon Fire TV and TV Stick is a winner especially for those with Amazon Prime account. The device is extremely smooth and the ability to access hundreds of apps for entertainment is a tremendous value at $39. However, some of you may be dissatisfied and want to return it to Amazon or give the Fire TV away.

There are some things you need to consider before returning the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick or giving it to another party. As of any device which has personal and private information, you want to delete all details before it lands in any hands.

The best and easiest way to remove all personal info, is to restore the Fire TV / Stick to factory default. You can accomplish this by the following sequence:

Go to Menu -> Settings -> System -> Reset to Factory Defaults

Click factory reset fire tv factory reset fire tv 2‘Reset’ when dialogue pops up to confirm.

You can also perform a factory reset by pressing on the Right and Back buttons together on your Fire TV remove for 10 seconds to reset to factory default.

How to turn off ‘Collect App Usage Data’

By default, Amazon has enabled the Fire TV to allow their Appstore to collect info on how often and how long you use their downloaded apps. If you feel extra generous about opening up your privacy, feel free to leave this as it is. However, if you are like me where you want to limit what information companies have access to and want to retain your privacy, turn it off using the below instructions.

Menu -> Settings -> Applications -> Collect App Usage Data

You can see here highlighted below that by default, this is set to ‘ON’. Click it and turn it off.

2015-01-05 10.12.28

2015-01-05 10.12.37

2015-01-05 10.12.46

You will receive confirmation as above. This is how you can turn off Amazon app store from collecting your app usage data.