Update February 28, 2019 1:15 ET: This article was originally published May 28, 2018 at. 10:11 ET. It has been updated to include a Alexa privacy settings blog on the Alexa app and the web.
Digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are designed to learn more about you as they listen and some of it is to record conversations you've had with them to learn the voice tone, questions, and queries. While this is meant to help the assistants like learning Alexa to give you better answers, this feature-not-a-bug has landed Amazon in a series of bizarre headlines. In 2018, users reported that their Echo speakers started laughing spontaneously, while a Portland family said their unit was recorded and sent calls to a colleague without their knowledge. For these cases, Amazon claims that the devices are likely triggered by false positive commands.
However, it is not uncommon for smart speakers to retrieve a random part of your everyday conversation and misunderstand it as a wake-up word (especially if you can have changed the Alexa trigger into a more common word, such as "Computer"). If you are curious about what Alexa has heard and recorded in your household, this is a quick way to check.
On the app
Open the first Alexa app on your smart device. Tap the hamburger icon at the top left of the screen to open the menu items. Click the Settings menu and then find the Alexa account. Touch Alexa Privacy, and here you can browse all the commands you've ever asked about Alexa, from hours to music requests to general internet issues.
You can also sort the results by date. Sometimes you can even just see a line that says "Alexa", for the times you might have mentioned the assistant's name but didn't mean you actually use it. By tapping on individual requests, you can also hear yourself in the event that you said that they encourage Alexa and choose to delete them if you wish.
You may notice some cases where the Alexa app notes a "text not available". Click In this way you can listen to a recording of what you or someone in your household said that led to echo listening to your current conversation. In 2018 we had Verge s editor Andrew Liptak check out his Alexa history and his Echo unit recorded an excerpt of his mother-in-law who teased his son and said, "Alexa will take over your house." In the app, Alexa noted that the sound was not intended for the assistant, and the speaker did not return an answer.
On the Web
If you prefer to do this on a desktop, you can also manage your Alexa history by going to Amazon's dedicated Alexa Privacy page. Here you can follow the same steps as above to view, listen and clear your Alexa voice messages as needed.
To erase the entire Alexa history, you can also access the Amazon Manage your content and devices and select your Android device. Here you can click Manage voice recordings to delete everything with one click.
Of course, the company assures that it "may impair your Alexa experience." As noted above, Amazon retains these recordings to customize the Alexa experience to your household and uses them to create an acoustic model of your voice. While it automatically creates a voice profile for each new user it recognizes (or the one you've added manually), the company says it deletes acoustic models if it hasn't recognized any particular user for three years.
For heavy Alexa users, by going through all these commands to find real calls to delete can be too much work. But if you are nervous about what Echo has listened to you say, it may be worth surfing to make sure that nothing recorded is something you want to be transferred elsewhere.