JERUSALEM, Israel – Apple users were shocked over the weekend when a simple question about Israel led to allegations of anti-Semitism.
The story went viral on social media Saturday after an iPhone user asked Siri, iPhone’s built-in voice assistant, “Who is the president of Israel?”
Siri pulled up Reuven Rivlin’s Wikipedia page and said he is “the President of the Zionist occupation state.”
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) January 19, 2020
When other users asked the same question, Siri replied with the same response.
— Mayer Fertig (@MayerFertig) January 19, 2020
— Michelle Sindyukov (@mischasindyukov) January 19, 2020
Twitter users notified the tech giant on social media and urged the company to change Siri’s answer immediately.
"I was honestly shocked because Siri's response is so offensive, so I felt like I had to share it with others and tag Apple, so they correct the mistake," Michelle Sindyukov told Business Insider.
Apple has since fixed the mistake and Siri now replies with “Israel” instead of “Zionist occupation state.”
Many iPhone users pointed out that Apple is not at fault for Siri’s response. Instead, they place their blame on Wikipedia, which was apparently hacked by someone with anti-Israel sentiments.
Siri sources much of her information from Wikipedia. When asked about any public figure, her answer is taken verbatim from that person’s Wikipedia page.
Ynet news reports that an anonymous user named “The Arab Man” vandalized Rivlin’s Wikipedia page and changed it to say he was “president of the Zionist occupation state.”
The user also edited his biography to call Rivlin “the man child of Israel.”
When prompted, Siri read what was on Rivlin’s Wikipedia page, which happened to be what “The Arab Man” had written.
“Siri has done this before in other publicized cases. It’s drawing on cached Wikipedia entries, so some vandalism slips through. Apple will apologize, patch it, and promise to look into it,” one Twitter user said.
The “wikidata” available to Wikipedia editors shows that “The Arab Man” edited Rivlin’s page around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. The Daily Wire reports that Wikipedia has since reversed the user’s edits and removed all the vandalism on Rivlin’s page.