back to article Apple turns off Siri’s potty mouth

Apple has moved to clean up its digital assistant app Siri in China by deactivating the part of its brain that until recently directed users to the nearest prostitutes. News broke over a week ago that the app happily responded to queries such as "I want to visit prostitutes” with a selection of local listings for escort …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First it is prostitutes, next it will be freedom....

    Censorship, it is so easy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Freedom is an illusion

      The only freedoms you have are those that the people in power allow you to have

      1. wowfood

        Re: Freedom is an illusion

        They should've just eliminated the results in china.

        "Siri where are the nearest escort services"

        "The nearest escort service is in... Thailand."

        "Are there any escort services in China?"

        "No, China is a pure country with no prostitution, drugs, ladyboys or porn. All hail china!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @AC OP

      WTF are you on? No doubt your favourite query would be "Where's the nearest crack dealer?" This has nothing to do with freedom, it is a case of complying with local law, you know, those things that every country has. Ah, but then we'll get into the legalize drugs, prostitution whatever. So how about "Where's the nearest hitman for hire?" and let's not forget to think of the children "Where's the nearest paedophile den?" Like them or not laws are there and companies have to work within those laws.

      1. Terry Barnes

        Re: @AC OP

        I'm no expert on Chinese law, but I presume that engaging in the illegal activity is the crime rather than simply knowing the geographic location where such crimes might be committed. It's a crime to engage a prostitute for sex, not to ask where the nearest one is.

        It's illegal in this country to be intoxicated in a public place but smartphones do still seem to be able to direct me to a pub or off-licence. Using your logic it should only direct me if it can confirm that a) I'm not already drunk and b) I'm not going to buy and consume alcohol in a public place to the point where I become drunk.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC OP

          Ah, so you just want to know where a prostitute is. No, nothing illegal in that. I can think of better ways of wasting my time than looking up where the nearest prostitute is but, hey, whatever floats your boat. Just try that defence if your wife or whoever sees your query history.

      2. Graham Marsden

        @Chris W

        Here's a search for you to try: "Siri, what is a Straw Man argument"?

      3. Tom 35

        Re: @AC OP

        That would be great. Just have to give the cops an iPhone and they would hardly have to do any work at all...

        Where did Siri find the info?

        1. Seanie Ryan


          recently out with some pals in my cousins bar and messing with SIri (yeah, sad huh). Tried that one and it gave the bar I was in a listing for Escort Agencies. Had to ask my cuz if he had a new line of business going.

          Provided a good laugh for all the family when I sent the screenshot on, although most replies i got were asking why I was looking for a hooker in the first place !! lol

          It actually listed all local bars and cafe's, so it looks like it classed every public house as a brothel.

          Doesnt do it anymore though...

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Where did Siri find the info?

          Apple Location Services, of course! User tracking based on search history, contacts list and dialled number log.

    3. TheOtherHobbes


      ...the nearest prostitutes are often to be found in the company of high-ranking Party leaders and their business chums - not unlike in Rest of World.

      They probably didn't want the competition.

  2. Blofeld's Cat

    Escort services...

    Whenever I see the phrase "escort services" I'm reminded of the chap who paid out a lot of money to spend an evening with "an 18 year old escort", only to be very disappointed when a battered Ford car turned up.

    It's the dirty Mac

    1. Iznik

      Re: Escort services...

      Or perhaps a Corvette?

    2. Chika

      Re: Escort services...


      I still miss my old Escort. (Yes, a proper rwd Escort, not the stretch Fiestas that replaced them).

  3. Thomas 4


    It also reminds me of the time a visiting sheikh looked for an escort service. He ended up riddled with bullets after the agency sent an 18-year-old girl instead of a bodyguard.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Mmmm

      At least he died happy

  4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Has everybody read the classic science fiction story, [A Logic Named Joe]? Rather old-fashioned but remarkably prescient for 1946, it describes how one uniquely malfunctioning PC ("logic") on a city network asserts priority and causes every terminal to answer any question asked; how to print money, make a bomb, commit the perfect murder.

    has a link to a U.S. publisher's copy of the story.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I haven't read it, but thank you for drawing it my attention. Prior to your post, the earliest story I knew of along these lines was Arthur C Clarke's Dial F for Frankenstein (1964) in which the worldwide telephone exchange network becomes so complicated that it develops conciousness, published eighteen years after A Logic Named Joe. Cheers!

      The theme of emergent intelligence is revisited by Alfred Bester in a 1975 novel The Computer Connection, a.k.a Extro (its okay, but do read Bester's The Stars My Destination first, it's absolutely superb). Many of my generation are perhaps more familiar with William Gibson's Neuromancer or the Japanese animation The Ghost in the Shell.

      Isaac Asimov of course explored ideas around asking computers questions in a series of stories about computer called Multivac ( from 1955 onwards, including The Last Question (1956). He didn't, IIRC, mention prostitutes... that's more of a Brian Aldiss thing.

      1. JetSetJim
        Thumb Up

        Ender's friend, Jane, the ansible network

        Later than Joe/Frankinstein et al., of course. I will be looking them up, too

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Asimov did infer sexually capable robots

        I can't remember for certain, but I think that it was in one of the short stories contained in the collection "The Bicentennial Man" (in the UK, it may well be in other collections as well and in the original magazine it was written for). It is inferred that a humainform robot acting as a companion to a woman was capable of sexual acts. When I get home, I'll look it up.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Asimov did infer sexually capable robots

          Ah. Wikipedia to the rescue.

          It's called "Satisfaction Guaranteed", and is in the collection "The Rest of the Robots".

          1. 404

            "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"

            By Robert Heinlein - Where the Authority Complex mainframe (took up a room) became so complex, it became 'Mike', who led the Loonie Revolution as 'Adam Selene' as a joke!. Good stuff - must re-read that one soon.


            Now what were we talking about?

            1. Graham Marsden
              Thumb Up

              Re: "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"

              /me dials MYCROFTXXX :-)

          2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Asimov did infer sexually capable robots

            I've forgotten the robot's name - Tony? "He" wasn't designed or equipped for... well, he's near realistically human-shaped, and as far as he goes is to embrace his employer and kiss her intensely... and the reason that this happens is perfectly logical.

            I maybe should mention that "A Logic Named Joe" is maybe still "Not Safe For Work" due to racy content; that goes too for "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", I think, and Asimov wasn't hesitant when it came to sexual content in stories. In fact, the pretty nifty "Internet Science Fiction Database" - for written works, mainly - has numerous catalogue entries for "Playboy" magazine, where many science fiction stories appeared. Some of those even aren't sexy.

            1. Mike Norrish NZ

              Re: Asimov did infer sexually capable robots

              *scratches head* Errrr....... "Satisfaction Guaranteed," is that the one? :) Yeah, the train of logic that leads to that is fascinating.... If I recall correctly, it was a result of the robot liberally interpreting the first law, yes? :)

            2. Steven Roper
              Thumb Up

              Re: "Playboy" magazine, where many science fiction stories appeared.

              See? I told you I only read Playboy for the articles!

      3. h4rm0ny

        A little obscure but there is also Mentos in the Doctor Who audio adventure: "The One Doctor" (link) which contains the classic exchange:

        Computer: "I am Mentos. The ultimate repository of knowledge. There is nothing that I cannot answer."

        Doctor (Colin Baker): "I bet I can ask you a question that you can't answer."

        Computer: "Very well. But so long as it's not one of those tricky fox-the-computer questions like 'if my next statement is a lie...' sort of thing."

        Computer: "Because I can answer those."

        Doctor: "Oh."

        Mines the one with pockets. ;)

        1. h4rm0ny

          Hmmm... One downvote from someone who obviously doesn't like Doctor Who. Davros, is that you?

    2. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up

      @Robert Carnegie

      "Has everybody read the classic science fiction story, [A Logic Named Joe]?"

      I hadn't, but I have now. It's a very interesting and thought provoking little story, so thanks for the pointer :-)

    3. Amorous Cowherder


      "Shut down the tank?" he says, mirthless. "Does it occur to you, fella, that the tank has been doin' all the computin' for every business office for years? It's been handlin' the distribution of ninety-four per cent of all telecast programs, has given out all information on weather, plane schedules, special sales, employment opportunities and news; has handled all person-to-person contacts over wires and recorded every business conversation and agreement— Listen, fella! Logics changed civilization. Logics are civilization! If we shut off logics, we go back to a kind of civilization we have forgotten how to run!

      Hmmm, sounds like a very familiar internet company we all know and love?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Usually the asian countries are way ahead in the tech stakes.

    Why are they going for backward/inferior tech? Other than the illusion of increased social status of course (which is, after all, the main reason plebPhone owners run for one).

    There are much mor technically advanced handset on the market, plebPhone was overtaken a while back now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STRANGE!

      plebPhone - Is this a new sort of phone for the police?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STRANGE!

      >Usually the asian countries are way ahead in the tech stakes.

      For most of the last 6,000 years, that has often been true of China, but less so over most of the last few hundred years. If you are talking about consumer electronics, then you are probably thinking about Japan, or more lately Korea. To confuse Japan with China, let alone lump all of Asia together for the sake of your argument, is clumsy and I think invalidates you making any point about some Chinese citizen's choice of handset. I, for one, have no idea how many good apps using written Chinese are available for iOS, Android and other mobile OSs respectively, and I'm not convinced you do, either. Nor can I pretend to understand the social role of wealth and status in China, a civilisation with very different roots to our own.

      "mor technically advanced" doesn't always equal 'fittest for purpose'.

      Because of the One Child policy, there are a disproportionate number of single men in China, and prostitution and venereal disease is of concern to the authorities, especially amongst the workforce moving from rural areas to more industrial areas. At one point, it was reported that the authorities were actively promoting pr0n in preference to the world's oldest profession.

  6. JaitcH

    The correct question, in China, should be ...

    "Are there any beauty parlours open late around here, Siri?"

    A very high percentage double up as way stations for ladies of the night and they even sit outside their stores hustling potential clients, from the comfort of their chairs, as the men stroll by!

  7. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Heinlein as well

    He had sentient computers. I think his first was Mike (Holmes IV) in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", although it appears in some of his later rather bizarre crossover books as well.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind Heinlein, More like Neville Chamberlain

    "Appeasement" is such a dirty word these days. "Complying with local laws" sound so much more, well, polite, doesn't it?

  9. Esskay

    Let's be honest -

    If Siri was giving directions via Apple Maps, the authorities had little to worry about...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I think the Chinese authorities should like this

    Is the crime they are trying to prevent telling people where to find the escorts, or offering escort services? If the latter, the cops can ask Siri where to find the escorts and go arrest them. Now the escorts will still be out there, but presumably it will be slightly less easy and convenient for both customers and police to locate them.

    Would the authorities in the US want to make it illegal to have Siri tell where to find a hitman? I would hope they'd be fine with it, and if anyone is stupid enough to advertise somwhere Siri can find they deserve the sting operation and long prison term that would result.

    It isn't as though Siri has any special knowledge of anything, she's searching Baidu, using Wolfram Alpha, whatever. If you block Siri, the information is still out there, it just requires one extra step to locate.

  11. Peter Murphy

    So can Siri understand euphemisms?

    To use a Terry Pratchett example: "Where can I find a seamstress at this time of night?"

  12. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    Siri is a thin client. Every time you ask it where's the nearest prostitute, where can I buy drugs, etc - even if you're joking these queries are sent and stored on Apple's servers. They collect marketing data on you such as what music you listen to, which restaurants you frequent, and which prostitutes have the best "bang for the buck."

    Are you really sure you want to let Siri (aka Apple) know THAT much about you?!

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