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Apple Fix Homophobic Russian Siri ‘Bug’

I apologise in advance, because this story is likely to make you a bit sad. However you feel about Siri, it and the other variants on other smartphones are here to stay. Siri is available in hundreds of different languages and voices across the world, but more than that, different Siris are culturally mapped to their native nations, just to make them seem more friendly and perhaps less robotic.

Disturbingly in the case of the Russian iteration of the Q/A iPhone hub, that nativity comes laced with a disturbing undercurrent of anti-gay prejudice. The below video shows Alex, a Russian speaker living in London, demonstrating how Siri responds to homosexually-themed questions. Unpleasantly, as it turns out, Siri responded by treating any reference to gayness as if it was foul language. For example, Alex asks Siri about registering for gay marriage, to which the response is “I will pretend I haven’t heard it.”

Since then a few other reports, most notably from BBC Russia, have turned out the same result. This isn’t to suggest that homophobia is just a part of Russia’s endemic culture, but there is a strong anti-LGBT sentiment there and it’s pretty far-reaching, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Russian language programming might have tagged ‘gay’ as swear-word, or some such.

Apple have addressed the issue, so if you were tempted to upset yourself by testing the theory hands-on, you’re out of luck. According to them, the spikey responses were down to ‘a bug that has since been fixed’. I don’t know if you can necessarily define such a massive, scathing oversight as a bug, and it should come as no surprise that Apple were so quick to address it, but I think realistically it at least warrants an apology, if not a detailed explanation.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Apple Fix Homophobic Russian Siri ‘Bug’ Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 Rating: 5

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