Apple Removes Questionable Web Links From Siri Suggestions

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safari iconApple has removed a number of results from Siri Suggested Websites after BuzzFeed highlighted several examples of the feature offering up "debunked conspiracies, shock videos, and false information."

Siri Suggested Websites is an optional feature in Safari that serves up auto-completed suggestions based on what the user starts typing into the browser's search bar. Results are curated by Apple and can include links sourced from things like Wikipedia, YouTube, and the iTunes Store.

Basically, BuzzFeed News stoked controversy by pointing out that if users typed in, say, "Pizzagate," the Siri feature would return links to YouTube videos by conspiracy theorist peddler David Seaman. From the article:

"Such results raise questions about the company's ability to monitor for low-quality information, and provide another example of the problems platforms run into when relying on algorithms to police the internet."

Incidentally, the link didn't actually work because YouTube previously removed the video for violating YouTube's terms of service. So whichever way you look at it, Apple's algorithm-driven suggestions aren't doing their job very well.

BuzzFeed informed Apple of this and several other "low quality" Siri Suggestions highlighted in the article, and Apple has since removed them. The company also provided the site with the following statement:

"Siri Suggested Websites come from content on the web and we provide curation to help avoid inappropriate sites. We also remove any inappropriate suggestions whenever we become aware of them, as we have with these. We will continue to work to provide high-quality results and users can email results they feel are inappropriate to applebot@apple.com."

The questionable Siri Suggestions are reportedly caused by a "data void," which is what happens when a term doesn't have "natural informative results" and manipulators capitalize upon it. "Many of the sites surfaced by the Siri Suggested feature came from conspiracy or junk sites hastily assembled to fill that void," BuzzFeed concludes.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Safari

Top Rated Comments

smokesletsgo Avatar
30 months ago

Apple can't solve the problem here, since there are far too many right-wing fake news sites to delete, literally millions of right-wing fake news sites, especially given that a lot of them are state funded by Russia and other enemies.

We really need a forceful and authoritarian government to end this harmful scourge, similar to what Europe does about Naziism. Pass a law banning them, similar to current libel laws, and arrest and imprison those that espouse fake news.

This will finally get rid of harmful people like the Pizza-gaters and Alex Jones at the societal level.

Remember, you don't have unlimited rights to free speech, regardless of what dumb teenage libertarians say.

Speech is limited in many, many ways, such as libel laws, copyright laws, "yelling fire in crowded theatres" etc..

What's harmfull is a lunatic calling for authoritarianism. Critical thinking, analysis, questioning things, thinking for yourself is THE WAY to dismiss "fake news", not some virtue signaling idiot at internet toilets like Buzzfeed calling for silencing and censorship, telling what's true and what's not. Are you an idiot? Do you need to be told what to read, what to think?
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
T-Bob Avatar
30 months ago

Apple can't solve the problem here, since there are far too many right-wing fake news sites to delete, literally millions of right-wing fake news sites, especially given that a lot of them are state funded by Russia and other enemies.

We really need a forceful and authoritarian government to end this harmful scourge, similar to what Europe does about Naziism. Pass a law banning them, similar to current libel laws, and arrest and imprison those that espouse fake news.

This will finally get rid of harmful people like the Pizza-gaters and Alex Jones at the societal level.

Remember, you don't have unlimited rights to free speech, regardless of what dumb teenage libertarians say.

Speech is limited in many, many ways, such as libel laws, copyright laws, "yelling fire in crowded theatres" etc..

Great idea, free speech is only meant to be free if you agree with it anyway, I think that's what Voltaire and others were thinking of. Just need some sort of inquisition like commission to decide on the acceptable standards and we're gold.

(yes this isn't serious)
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
err404 Avatar
30 months ago
I’m fine with filtering spam and fraud. My issue here is that even when users are intentionally looking for fringe information like “pizzagate”, they are be going to be denied results.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
miniyou64 Avatar
30 months ago
Low quality information? Buzzfeed is the definition of low quality information.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NufSaid Avatar
30 months ago
Those who want some speech blocked will one day wake up and find it will be their own.
[doublepost=1537973041][/doublepost]Wondering if Apple will block CNN and MSNBC (Left wing fake news sites) as well.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Porco Avatar
30 months ago
This isn’t any obstacle to free speech, in fact it’s entirely in support of it in a way - Apple’s free speech in choosing what not to suggest. We are still all free to search for whatever we like, there’s just certain things Apple doesn’t want Siri to suggest.

If you believe in free speech, I would presume you wouldn’t want others telling you what you must say any more than what you can’t say - so why should we be telling Apple what Siri must suggest?

When your/my/our government, which (in a democracy) represents the people bans searches across all means of searching - that is a free speech issue, both in terms of hearing it and expressing it.

When a private company we have chosen to buy products from chooses to not include certain suggestions in an already-curated selection - that is free speech in action. It is Apple being free to say what they want to suggest, and not being forced to suggest what they don’t want to.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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