Friday 6 September 2019 2:32 pm

Apple rewrote Siri to ‘deflect’ feminism and #MeToo questions

Apple tweaked the software behind Siri to change how its voice assistant responds to “sensitive topics” including feminism and the #MeToo movement.

The project saw Siri’s responses rewritten so it would say it was in favour of “equality”, without ever saying the word feminism, according to leaked documents seen by The Guardian.

Read more: Apple apologises for listening to Siri conversations

Developers who rewrote the software were advised: “don’t engage”, “deflect”, and “inform”.

“Siri should be guarded when dealing with potentially controversial content,” said the leaked guidelines.

When Siri is asked direct questions, the documents said, “they can be deflected”, but added: “care must be taken here to be neutral.”

Siri used to respond by saying, “Sorry [user], I don’t really know” when asked if it was a feminist. Now, there are specific responses written for that query. These include “I believe that all voices are created equal and worth equal respect,” and “It seems to me that all humans should be treated equally.”

The voice assistant’s software was also rewritten for topics related to the #MeToo movement. Previously, if a user called Siri a “slut”, it would respond: “I’d blush if I could”. Now, it says: “I won’t respond to that”.

Read more: Hey up, Siri: BBC to launch ‘Beeb’ voice assistant that recognises regional accents

In a statement responding to the Guardian’s report, Apple said: “Siri is a digital assistant designed to help users get things done.”

“The team works hard to ensure Siri responses are relevant to all customers,” it continued. “Our approach is to be factual with inclusive responses rather than offer opinions.”