Siri now gives Chinese prostitutes the cold shoulder -- report

After Apple's voice-activated assistant reportedly directed some users to Chinese brothels, the company made some adjustments to Siri's attitude on the subject, state-run media reported.

Apple

Siri may have run afoul of Chinese law over the past few months, forcing Apple to rein her in.

Some users have apparently asked Apple's voice-activated assistant where they could find prostitutes in China, according to the government-run Xinhua News Agency. And Siri has been directing them to supposed nearby locations. Prostitution, however, is illegal in China.

The novelty of Siri's responses prompted China's version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, to light up with comments and jokes. According to the BBC, one user wrote that finding an escort is easier than finding a Chinese restaurant.

"When I ask Siri about beef noodle soup or hotpot, she has no idea," the user wrote.

It seems that Apple may have been alerted to this little mishap and turned off any Siri answers for prostitution, brothels, or escorts. As of yesterday, when users asked for one of these types of services, Siri would politely answer, "I couldn't find any escort services" or "There seems to have been a mistake."

When Apple was asked if it was indeed censoring the service, the company told Xinhua it was "responding to reports from our users, we have blocked information related with 'escorts'."

This isn't the first time Siri has responded with information that surprised lawmakers. Last year, in the U.S., users realized that the service refused to give directions to abortion clinics but was more than happy to help out on finding drugs and weapons. Apple shortly fixed the "glitch" to provide useful information on reproductive resources.

Apple has not yet confirmed whether Siri was in fact pointing users in China to brothels when asked. CNET contacted the company for more information and we'll update the story when we hear back.

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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