Apple Removes Questionable Web Links From Siri Suggestions

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple 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.

Article Link: Apple Removes Questionable Web Links From Siri Suggestions
 
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mozumder

macrumors 6502a
Mar 9, 2009
925
2,603
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..
 

smokesletsgo

macrumors regular
Oct 23, 2013
150
126
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?
 

T-Bob

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2013
621
315
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)
 
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blizaine

macrumors 6502
Sep 17, 2003
334
124
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.
I’m pretty sure this was sarcasm. But that just shows the sad state our country has gotten to, that I have to ask. :) But then again, I think the first thread post was actually serious. Lol
 

unobtainium

macrumors 68020
Mar 27, 2011
2,360
3,319
There were always a high percentage of idiotic people out there — the kind of people who believe conspiracy theories and lack critical thinking skills or the ability to assess the reliability of sources. It’s just that they now have access to whatever any idiot feels like posting online. The cat is out of the bag, there’s no going back. The internet has made the world noticeably dumber.
 

ravenstar

macrumors regular
Jan 12, 2005
213
363
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..
You're trolling, right? There's a world of difference between Apple tweaking a service to eliminate "debunked conspiracies, shock videos, and false information" and government censorship. Apple isn't even trying to prevent you from finding that nonsense if you want. They simply aren't offering it in their suggestions. Search works just as it always has.
 

djlythium

macrumors 6502a
Jun 11, 2014
690
886
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.
Absolutely right.

APPLE: LOVE YOUR DEDICATION TO PRIVACY AND ECOCENTRISM. NOW, PLEASE BE CAREFUL HOW YOU ACT IN THE FIGHT TO MAINTAIN FREE SPEECH!
 

Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
3,112
5,947
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.
 

ikramerica

macrumors 6502
Apr 10, 2009
409
396



Apple 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:
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:
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.

Article Link: Apple Removes Questionable Web Links From Siri Suggestions
Why does Apple need to block results? Why can’t they just warn that the following results may not be reliable due to the low number of matches or something like that.
 

neliason

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2015
398
636
I don't like Apple deciding what is or is not true for me.

just need some sort of inquisition like commission to decide on the acceptable standards and we're gold.
Ironically it is fake news that the inquisition was unfair. One may not agree with what they considered a crime, but they were actually very fair courts. They were more fair than the secular courts of the time. In fact there are records of people committing blasphemy in secular courts to get their case moved to ecclesiastical courts. This just goes to prove that 'decided truth' is a dangerous thing.
 

Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
3,112
5,947
I don't like Apple deciding what is or is not true for me.
They’re not. It’s a curated list already. They’re deciding what is or is not good information, for them. If you are asking them for suggestions, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get their suggestions. If you want a general search, there are other tools that do that.

If you ask me to suggest a restaurant, I’ll tell you what I think. I won’t list every possible restaurant, because you asked for my suggestion. The clue is surely in the name ‘Siri Suggested Websites’. It isn’t called ‘Siri comprehensive and absolute truth’. ;)
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
48,914
17,550
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.
Absolutely right.

APPLE: LOVE YOUR DEDICATION TO PRIVACY AND ECOCENTRISM. NOW, PLEASE BE CAREFUL HOW YOU ACT IN THE FIGHT TO MAINTAIN FREE SPEECH!
Why does Apple need to block results? Why can’t they just warn that the following results may not be reliable due to the low number of matches or something like that.
How exactly is something being blocked or denied when it comes to a change to an optional auto-complete suggestion feature?

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.
 
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212rikanmofo

macrumors 68000
Jan 31, 2003
1,688
642
**** Buzzfeed, and all those other MSM giants like CNN. Who are they to suggest to me what's fake, conspiracy or not. This is just another form of censoring us. I already blocked all these news sites like CNN, Buzzfeed, The Wallstreet Journal, Washington Post, The New York Times, Times, and a bunch of others globalist's socialism media sources. Good riddance.
 

err404

macrumors 68030
Mar 4, 2007
2,515
616
How exactly is something being blocked or denied when it comes to a change to an optional auto-complete suggestion feature?
As I stated you are being “denied results”, which is exactly what they are doing. This makes it harder to find the information that you are searching for. I never stated that this action blocks or denies access.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
48,914
17,550
As I stated you are being “denied results”, which is exactly what they are doing. This makes it harder to find the information that you are searching for. I never stated that this action blocks or denies access.
These aren't results, they are optional curated autocomplete suggestions.
 
Last edited:

alksion

macrumors 68000
Sep 10, 2010
1,708
111
Orange County CA
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?
Literally just logged in to like your comment. The dude above you is insane. I cannot believe there are people who would call for such a government.
 

c0ppo

macrumors 68000
Feb 11, 2013
1,652
2,938
Apple:
Our users are stupid, so we have a new smart feature for them. From now on our devices will do the thinking for them. It's magical.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
48,914
17,550
Apple:
Our users are stupid, so we have a new smart feature for them. From now on our devices will do the thinking for them. It's magical.
You realize that autocomplete and suggestions are basically curated and exist in many places outside of Apple's control/involvement.
 
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