Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chinese authorities grow testy over Siri's ability to find brothels

Siri isn't exactly bug-less, and Apple admits the feature is still beta. Here's an interesting bug for Siri users, but it only applies to Mandarin language versions of the app: Chinese state media issued complaints on Monday that Siri is very good - at directing users to brothels.

On Monday, state-run newspaper China Daily said that users of the recently released Mandarin version of Siri were given several ways to find prostitutes upon asking Siri, but the paper did not - or could not - verify if the authenticity of the "listings."

China Daily went further, adding that a lawyer had stated that Siri's brothel information had "affected the public order and had a negative influence."

Prostitution is banned in China, which has a conservative attitude to sex, as do many Asian countries.

Users of Sina Weibo, which is China's version of Twitter, made the Siri - brothel connection a trending topic early Monday. Noting the same issues seen on other versions of Siri, that the app often has problems with requests, one poster noted that Siri is much better at finding prostitutes than restaurants: "When I ask Siri about beef noodle soup or hotpot, she has no idea," the user wrote.

Another wondered how Siri could be so accurate in terms of locating brothels when the authorities are not. "A mobile phone can know all this while the police do not?"

Conspiracy theorists exist all over, even in China. One poster suspected that Apple intentionally provided the "service." One would think Siri's reticence about Tiananmen Square is more likely to have been done intentionally than this was.

It appears Chinese authorities have successfully reached Apple, though. Requests for brothels or prostitutes appeared to have been blocked by Monday, with Siri responding with "answers" such as: "There seems to have been a mistake" and "I didn't find anybody by that name."

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