A video that has gone viral purports to show the virtual assistant for Amazon, Alexa, providing the exact date for a Russian attack on Germany that will, according to the video, herald the beginning of a new world war.
“World War III starts on November 23, 2023 at 6:05pm, when Russia launches an attack against Germany,” the voice-activated gadget appears to say, in response to a question about the start of World War III. On Twitter and TikTok, the video or variations of it have been shared, with a single post collecting more than 200,000 engagements in only one day.
“I’ll give it to you again
“Alexa is World War 3 November 23, 2023
“From 6:05 pm
“Answer: Russia will attack Germany,” the caption says.
After the recent “quiet part loud” declaration made by the German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock that the West is “at war” with Russia, the prophecy appeared to be particularly ominous in light of the recent tensions that have arisen between Russia and Western nations.
Is it possible that Amazon is privy to information regarding shifting geopolitical dynamics that no one else is? Don’t rush to the bomb shelters just yet; the situation is still fluid. Even though the author’s handle is obscured by the letters, the clip appears to have been taken from TikTok due to its vertical style and the TikTok logo that is just barely visible behin the text.
However, Newsweek was able to find the user’s TikTok account by conducting a mix of reverse image and keyword searches, which led them to multiple YouTube reposts of the video that were missing their captions. One of these reposts was dated December 2021.
Even though it seems that that account no longer exists, the one that is found when you search for it does, in fact, have the video saved in its post history. Additionally, it tags another user of TikTok, namely @jonbuckhouse.
The “prediction” that turned out to be a hoax appears to have originated from this account. The video including the question about World War III was uploaded to the account on Friday, April 23, 2021, as indicated by the metadata for the video.
This audio track seems to have been superimposed on previous footage of the Alexa device because Buckhouse’s voice appears to be identical to the one of the person who asked Alexa the inquiry in the original clip. The majority of the user’s content is based on the idea of making personalized “Alexa responses” in response to arbitrary inquiries posed by other TikTokers. This user has posted a lot of stuff.
Additionally, this is not the first time that Buckhouse’s deceitful interactions with Alexa have caused one of her clips to go viral. A “prediction” that “Miami will be entirely devastated by a storm in 2025” was spreading online in 2021, and it received more than 16 million views before it was refuted by Snopes. The “prediction” stated that “Miami will be utterly destroyed by a hurricane in 2025.”
Another one showed what seemed to be the device predicting that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will become president. In most cases, the gadget searches for answers online using a search engine supplied by Bing. When it does so, it often selects the search result with the highest rating to provide its response.
“This is not Alexa’s response and we have not been able to replicate this video,” Alexa spokesperson told Newsweek in an email. According to the representative, Alexa’s default response to this question would be: “There hasn’t been a World War III and it’s impossible to predict if such a war will happen in the future. World War I occurred from 1914-1918 and World War II occurred from 1939-1945.”
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Newsweek tested Alexa with the exact same question and received a response in line with this statement.
“The term ‘World War III’ refers to a hypothetical worldwide large-scale military conflict subsequent to World War I and World War II. Though it’s impossible to predict when such a war may happen again in the future, the United Nations was established to ensure that it never does,” the voice assistant responded in our test.
Even though it’s not clear what method the TikToker used to make customized answers, the spokesperson told Newsweek that there are a number of ways to change Alexa’s automatic response and make your own customized responses.
For example, one could use the “Alexa Skill Blueprints,” which let Alexa owners make their own voice apps and customize their devices. Setting up an Alexa routine with a specific line of response to a certain trigger—in this case, the World War III question—is an even easier way to do this.
“These custom responses can’t be used by other customers unless the person who made them shares the skill or routine and the recipient makes it possible,” the spokesperson said.
So it looks like the “Alexa prediction” about a global war happening soon is just another hoax. We don’t know how Buckhouse, if he is the creator of the video, came up with the date or the reason for war, especially since the video was posted more than a year before Russia invaded Ukraine.
It’s important to note, though, that the idea of Eastern Europe becoming the center of yet another global war is not new. Historians and military experts have thought about this possibility for years. Newsweek asked Jon Buckhouse what he thought about it.
In the past, Alexa “predictions” made through voice assistants have caused a stir on social media. For example, Alexa was said to have predicted that a mysterious attack called “The Bombing” would happen on May 25, 2018.
But it turned out that the “prophecy” was just the date that Bruce Willis’s new movie with the same name would come out. The movie’s name was eventually changed to “Airstrike,” but, ironically, that didn’t stop it from “bombing” at the box office, where it made just over $500,000 in total.
This kind of content is often linked to conspiracy theories, like the idea that highly advanced AI will take over or that big companies are told ahead of time about big changes in the world. But there is no evidence that Alexa can predict anything more than what it can learn from online search engines that anyone can use.