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Safari’s suggested search results have been promoting conspiracies, lies, and misinformation

Et tu, Siri?

Gallery Photo: OSX 10.10 Yosemite Image: The Verge

Safari’s Siri Suggested Websites search results have been recommending a litany of low-quality and conspiratorial websites, a report from Buzzfeed has revealed. Siri Suggested results are a means of linking Safari users directly to relevant websites directly from the search bar rather than needing to load the results in a web page first.

The suggestions, highlighted at the top of the search bar, include a holocaust denial website, a Pizzagate conspiracy video, and an anti-vaccination website. Apple removed each of the misleading results shortly after the report surfaced.

A search for “Pizzagate,” for example, caused Siri to suggest a conspiratorial YouTube video from David Seaman, who had his account suspended back in February 2018 for violating the platform’s terms of services. Meanwhile, searching for “the holocaust didn’t happen” causes Siri to suggest visiting a Holocaust denial website.

Image: Buzzfeed

Apple relies on Google for its Siri search results, having ditched Bing back in 2017. But when Buzzfeed compared results on popular conspiracy theories from the two services, Siri was found to actively promote misinformation that Google’s algorithms did not. Instead, Google successfully surfaced articles from reputable sources such as The Washington Post and Snopes designed to debunk the theories. This would seem to indicate that Siri’s internal algorithms and human curation, to the degree it exists, are to blame for the offensive suggestions.

Safari users can disable Siri’s suggested websites by opening Safari’s Preferences, clicking on Search, and unchecking the “Include Safari Suggestions” box.