Each time you speak a request or command to your Alexa speaker, the virtual assistant records your voice and sends that up to Amazon servers in the cloud. These recordings help the assistant “learn” your ways of talking (your accent, how you say specific words, et al) so that she grows better able to understand you over time.
Thus, these voice recordings are saved there, and the more voice recordings that accumulate, the more accurately Alexa understands what you’re asking. So, the quality and accuracy of her answers improves over time as well. These historical recordings therefore, help create a more pleasant experience with your speaker.
However, Alexa currently saves this audio history for months, or years even, and these audio pieces could be subpoenaed by a court if you’re ever accused of a crime, and possibly incriminate you, fairly or not.
Also, consider that more than just your requests are recorded and saved. Indeed, any time the Echo speakers think that they hears someone say, “Alexa…,” “Amazon,…”or “Echo…,” it “wakes up,” and starts recording, and in some cases, saving the audio. While we’ve found that these falsely interpreted wake commands occur rarely. they nonetheless occasionally, do indeed trigger recordings to be saved in your Alexa history which do not contain any questions / commands, but can contain conversations. So, be careful of what you say while Alexa is listening.
Since the microphones in the Alexa speakers are quite sensitive with that far field technology behind them, they can pick up and record what your television is playing, what you’re saying on the phone, distant conversations, and any other sounds occurring within several seconds of when the speaker wakes up. So, for these reasons, you may wish to periodically erase some or all of these Echo recordings. Remember though, as discussed above, that removing them also erases what the Alexa virtual Assistant has learned about how you speak since the last time the recordings were deleted. Fortunately, keeping or deleting them is your choice; definitely pros and cons for each choice. But if you’ve decide to erase the voice history or parts of it, then read on for instruction on how.
Delete Alexa History
To delete your Alexa Echo voice recording history, follow the procedure below.
1. Bring up a web browser in either a phone, tablet, or desktop computer. No matter, so long as the device can access your Amazon account.
2. Visit the Amazon Manage My Content and Devices page. You’ll be prompted for your Amazon user Id and password if you’re not already logged in with your current browser.
Once logged in, you’ll receive the Manage Your Content and Devices page with several tabs for your various devices and content, as shown in the next picture.
3, Tap or click the Devices tab. This tab is located on the upper center of the screen, as illustrated in the previous picture. You’ll then get something like the page displayed next.
A separate voice history for each Alexa device is maintained. So to delete it all, you’ll need to repeat the following steps for each device you wish to purge. We found no way to perform a global device history delete; one that would remove the voice requests from all the Alexa devices associated with our Amazon account. So, rather than deleting all the history, we’re going to delete the Alexa history here from our ‘Living Room’ device only.
4. Tap the device from which you want to delete the Alexa history. We’re tapping our ‘Living Room’ Echo Dot; the button with the ellipses in it, to the left of the highlighted device in the previous picture. Then, you see a pop-up window, showing a picture of your device and its name, as depicted in the next screen shot.
5. Tap the Manage Voice Recordings Link.
6. Tap the Delete button, if you’re sure you wish to go ahead with the device history purge. If not, you can tap the close (X) button in the top right hand corner of the Manage Voice Recordings window to cancel out. However, if you decided to proceed, a message will appear, indicating that history delete is in progress. Then, when that’s done, a deletion-completed-successfully message appears briefly. You’re then returned to the Manage Your Content and Devices page, as shown next.
Verify that Alexa History has been Deleted
One way to do this is via the Alexa app on your tablet. We did not find a way to look at your device voice history entries on the Amazon website itself. But we could check the history in the Alexa app, as follows.
7. Locate the Alexa app on your tablet. Our copy of the app is located on the third page of the home screen on our iOS based iPad tablet, as shown next.
8. Then, run the Alexa app. You should then get the Alexa app Home screen, similar to the picture displayed next.
9. Tap the Settings option. This brings up the Settings screen, as shown next.
10. Tap the History-View Requests to Alexa option, the one pointed at by the pink arrow in the picture just previous. The Alexa Request History screen then displays, as shown next.
If you only have one Alexa device associated with your Amazon account, this screen will display no entries.
But if, like us, you have multiple Alexa Echo speakers, you’ll still see the request history for your other devices, as the picture above here illustrates. Note that we deleted the history for our Living Room device, so that those particular requests no longer display in this list. We had to scroll completely through this list to verify that all Living Room entries have been removed. But our Bedroom device entries remain.
Again, if we wanted to delete ALL the Alexa history, we’d have had to also perform the above steps on our Bedroom device. A complete periodic deletion of the voice history on all your Alexa smart devices would be the best way to protect your privacy in the ‘brave new world’ of listening technology. Be secure.
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- 2017-01-19: Originally published.