With this holiday season, Amazon has released a wave of new products and news, from a water-resistant Kindle Paperwhite to totally free shipping until December 25. Meanwhile, its Alexa virtual assistant is getting upgraded with support for Skype on Echo devices, and a Windows 10 app. While the Google Assistant is arguably the most capable personal AI on the market, its maker is not the only one with deep pockets and high ambitions.
For these assistants to do their jobs effectively, though, they need to collect a lot of data -- the kind that's specific down to the individual user. In fact, every time you talk to Alexa, Amazon records the conversation. And not just what was said and how Alexa responded, but also where the user was and what device they used for interaction.
With all the data security breaches we've seen this year, and a growing number of people asking how much control they have over the personal info that Silicon Valley accumulates about its customers, you may be wondering about what you can do to reduce your level of exposure. While the short answer is usually "Delete Facebook," Amazon actually provides tools that let you review your own Alexa-related data and delete it at your discretion.
It's all available within the Alexa app itself (Android, iOS), which you use to set up Echo devices in your home, optionally chat with other Echo users, access your Kindle library, and talk to Alexa herself. Tap the hamburger menu in the upper left, then Settings, then Alexa Account to see your options.
If you tap History, you will see individual entries for each Alexa interaction you've had, and you can tap each one and then tap the Delete Voice Recording button to permanently erase that data.
Deleting multiple (or all) Alexa interactions at once
Of course, if you talk to Alexa a lot, this isn't the most efficient method. If you want to erase batches of interactions, that'll require tapping Alexa Privacy instead of History. That opens this web page on Amazon's site where you have a more powerful tool that can erase everything at once.
To do so, click the Date Range drop-down menu, change "Today" to "All History," and click "Delete All Recordings for All History." Lastly, click the Yes button to confirm your choice.
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When you do this, Amazon warns, "Deleting your voice recordings may degrade your experience. While your request is being processed, the Alexa App may still display the voice recordings you have chosen to delete."
Alternatively, you can go back to that drop-down menu and select "Today," "Yesterday," "This Week," "This Month," and "Custom." This last option lets you choose a specific date range. Once you've selected your dates, click the Show button to review and optionally delete your Alexa interactions, one at a time or all in one go.
In some cases, the entries may say "Text not available - audio was not intended for Alexa," which means that Amazon detected a false positive. This can happen when Alexa mistakenly hears its wake word, which can happen frequently when you're watching TV or listening to music within range of an Echo's microphone.
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