Petition To Correct Siri's Apparent Anti-Abortion Bias Collects Nearly 30,000 Signatures
In the past 24 hours, more than 27,000 people have signed a petition asking Apple to stop iPhone voice assistant Siri from directing women to anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy centers" when they ask where to get an abortion.
The Raw Story reported on Tuesday that Siri does not turn up results for any abortion clinics in Washington, D.C. or New York City. Instead, the iPhone 4 assistant either suggests out-of-state crisis pregnancy centers, which have the stated purpose of convincing women not to get abortions, or says "I didn't find any abortion clinics."
The petition to Apple, organized by social activists Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas through MoveOn.org, states: "Apple: Stop promoting anti-choice extremists. If a user asks for family planning services, they should be directed to a group that offers full services, like Planned Parenthood--not to a hard-right clinic with an extremist agenda." It had collected 27,294 signatures by the time this story was written and will be sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook when it reaches 30,000.
"What's so surprising is that Apple would put a product on the marketplace that is so discriminatory and antiquated," Thomas said Thursday. "Apple needs to correct and update Siri's query data. Apple has this reputation of being innovative and progressive, and this oversight seems out of step with who we know them to be."
NARAL Pro-Choice America also sent a letter to Cook on Wednesday demanding that Siri recognize abortion clinics.
"Siri is a great tool that mixes humor and sarcasm in responding to questions--and it is another example of how your company is on the cutting edge of demonstrating how technology can transform the way we share and access information," wrote Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL. "Thus, it is disappointing to read that a tool like Siri is missing the mark when it comes to providing information about such personal health issues as abortion care and contraception.
Apple responded to the uproar by saying that the Siri glitch is unintentional and will be fixed.
"Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information, and while it can find a lot, it doesn't always find what you want," Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, told The New York Times on Wednesday. "These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better, and we will in the coming weeks."
Chaudhary told HuffPost it doesn't matter to her why the problem is happening.
"The issue is that it is and it's actively hurting women who're seeking information on family planning services," she said. "This needs to get fixed--quickly."