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In today’s world of politically correct insanity, it’s truly baffling that a significant number of Americans willingly invite in their homes these advanced devices that constantly eavesdrop on their conversations and actions. Yet, that’s become the norm with gadgets like Echo and Alexa, which feel like creepy spies sitting in the corner, recording every noise you make. Well, one guy learned the hard way just how risky that idea can be when his doorbell accused him of being “racist” and Amazon completely shut down his entire “smart home.” The guy’s name is Brandon Jackson, and he gave a detailed account of what went down that fateful day.
OnWednesday, May 31, 2023, I finally regained access to my Amazon account after an unexpected and unwarranted lockout that lasted nearly a week, from Thursday, May 25. This wasn’t just a simple inconvenience, though. I have a smart home, and my primary means of interfacing with all the devices and automations is through Amazon Echo devices via Alexa. This incident left me with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions.
Brandon was unable to access his “smart house” devices and figured he had been hacked. Little did he know what was about to happen, all thanks to the Amazon Supreme Court, the mighty deciders of who gets electricity and who doesn’t.
The sequence of events that led to this digital exile began innocuously enough. A package was delivered to my house on Wednesday, May 24, and everything seemed fine. The following day, however, I found that my Echo Show had signed out, and I was unable to interact with my smart home devices. My initial assumption was that someone might have attempted to access my account repeatedly, triggering a lockout. I use a fairly old email address for my Amazon account, and it’s plausible that an old password might have been exposed in a past data breach. However, I currently use strong, auto-generated passwords via Apple and employ two-factor authentication with an authenticator app, so unauthorized access seemed unlikely.
I swiftly checked my other accounts (social media, streaming apps, etc.) to ensure I hadn’t been compromised. All seemed normal, with no flood of notifications from Microsoft Authenticator that would indicate an attempted breach. Puzzled, I followed the advice of the Amazon app and dialed the customer service number it provided. That’s when things began to take a surreal turn.
Brandon reached out to the Amazon folks, who wasted no time informing him that his services had been suspended due to his doorbell outing him as a dirty, filthy “racist.” He was probably a Trump supporter as well. What a lout!
The representative told me I should have received an email, which I indeed found in my inbox. It was from an executive at Amazon. As I dialed the number provided in the email, I half-wondered if Amazon was experiencing some issues and I was unwittingly falling into a scam.
When I connected with the executive, they asked if I knew why my account had been locked. When I answered I was unsure, their tone turned somewhat accusatory. I was told that the driver who had delivered my package reported receiving racist remarks from my “Ring doorbell” (it’s actually a Eufy, but I’ll let it slide).
As it turns out, there wasn’t even a racist comment made, but in today’s overly politically correct world facts tend to hinder the pursuit of social justice. So, instead, it’s apparently more acceptable to completely cut off someone’s access to their own home based on the mere possibility that they might be dirty, filthy, Trump-supporting racist. But here’s the bigger question: when did Amazon become the arbiter of free speech in the United States? Why is a corporate entity the one making determinations on what qualifies as “racist” and doling out punishments accordingly? Doesn’t this whole situation sound a tad dystopian to you?
Here’s where things got even more baffling. First, I have multiple cameras recording everything that happens on my property. If the driver’s claims were accurate, I could easily verify them with video footage. Second, most delivery drivers in my area share the same race as me and my family. It seemed highly unlikely that we would make such remarks. Finally, when I asked what time the alleged incident occurred, I realized it was practically impossible for anyone in my house to have made those comments, as nobody was home around that time (approximately 6:05 PM).
I reviewed the footage and confirmed that no such comments had been made. Instead, the Eufy doorbell had issued an automated response: “Excuse me, can I help you?” The driver, who was walking away and wearing headphones, must have misinterpreted the message. Nevertheless, by the following day, my Amazon account was locked, and all my Echo devices were logged out.
Brandon provided the Amazon Overlords with “video evidence” to show that he wasn’t a “racist” and anticipated his service to be reinstated. But unfortunately, that didn’t occur. Several days passed before his service was eventually restored, without any prior notice or apology. The Amazon Overlords probably figured Brandon was still a racist, anyway.
Despite promptly submitting video evidence immediately upon learning of the issue, my account remained locked. The timing couldn’t have been worse: the onset of Labor Day weekend was approaching, and I was keen to resolve the issue before the long weekend. However, despite numerous calls and emails, it wasn’t until Friday afternoon that I received confirmation that the investigation had started. I was told to expect a response within two business days, meaning not until Tuesday of the following week at the earliest.
In the end, my account was unlocked on Wednesday, with no follow-up email to inform me of the resolution. This incident stands as a stark reminder of the need for better customer service and a more nuanced approach to incident management.
Why didn’t Amazon bother with this supposed “investigation” before cutting off this guy’s access to his own home? And seriously, why is Amazon even trying to be the “Word Police” in the first place?
Podcaster Louis Rossman discussed this bizarrely frightening story on his popular podcast.
It’s all reminiscent of this classic tweet:
— Jevaughn (@Jevaughn_Brown) June 12, 2023
The bottom line is this: when you give woke companies this kind of unfettered power and control in your home, don’t be surprised when they use it against you. There will be many more stories like this in the future. Having a “smart home” could be the dumbest move you make.