Concerns that the Chinese version of the Apple iPhone’s new voice-activated assistant “Siri” directs users to brothels has been raised by netizens and lawyers, state media said Monday.
Users of the recently released Mandarin version of Siri were given several options for finding prostitutes upon request, but could not verify if the listings were accurate, the state-run China Daily said.
It cited a lawyer as saying the information supplied by Siri had “affected the public order and had a negative influence”.
Prostitution is banned in China, which retains a largely conservative attitude to sex.
Nearly nine million users of Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, commented on the function, making it one of the hottest topics early Monday.
One suspected Apple of providing the service intentionally, while another noted how efficient it was at finding brothels, rather than restaurants that serve typically Chinese dishes.
“When I ask Siri about beef noodle soup or hotpot, she has no idea,” the netizen said.
Another message said Siri’s detailed knowledge of brothels puts Chinese law enforcement to shame.
“A mobile phone can know all this while the police do not?”
The service appeared to have been blocked by Monday, as Siri replied to variously worded attempts to find prostitutes with non-answers like: “There seems to have been a mistake” and “I didn’t find anybody by that name”.
China is the second-biggest market for Apple after the United States.
An Apple spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.