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Does Apple’s Siri really have a pro-life bias?


TUAW’s Chris Rawson:

This is a textbook example of sensationalistic media making something from absolutely nothing. If Siri’s search parameters function the same way as other services (and I’m almost certain they do), it’s likely that in addition to the business name itself, a business will have a cluster of tagged metadata associated with it. Siri’s association with Yelp in the U.S. makes this sort of tagging extremely easy for restaurants and other retail services — searching for something as simple as “hamburgers” or “Target” will return dozens of results in major cities.


Why searches for “abortion clinic” or “birth control” aren’t also Yelp-powered is easy enough to discern; searching for “abortion clinic” in Washington, D.C. on returns an array of ridiculous results such as “New York New York Salon” (the top result), McDonald’s (not kidding), Ebenezers Coffeehouse, and Georgetown University Law Center. That’s the downside of a crowdsourced search service.

“Why not just source results from Google Maps?” you might ask. That’s easy enough to answer: it’s probably because Siri is designed to lessen Apple’s dependence on its biggest competitor for search services. Does that do users any sort of disservice, especially to the extent that Think Progress and Slate claim? Not particularly, since either the Google-powered Maps app or a Google search within Safari are at most one or two taps away.

Or, as Rod Dreher puts it, “Come to think of it, is there a greater First World Problem than your Siri not being able to give you directions to the nearest abortion clinic?”

Via Daring Fireball

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