Siri users looking for 'escorts' and 'prostitutes' sent to a Toronto bar
Amara McLaughlin, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, March 15, 2017 5:48PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 15, 2017 8:06PM EDT
There are no limits to what people will use Siri for, but the virtual assistant in the palm of your hand is causing one Little Italy bar grief by directing users who ask about "prostitutes" or "escorts" there, instead of people looking to play or watch video games.
On Sunday, Meltdown eSports Bar received a phone call at 3 a.m. from a man asking for "prostitutes," said co-owner Alvin Acyatan, who later discovered that Siri had given him the bar’s number.
But this wasn’t the first time he’d received a "mysterious" late night call.
Shortly after the gaming bar opened last November, Acyatan claims he began receiving calls on his personal cell phone that doubles as the business’s main phone line, from people asking for "escorts."
"The conversations were really quick when it happened so I didn’t get a chance to find out why," he told CP24.
Siri is Apple’s voice-recognition software that acts as a search engine by talking to it.
In a series of tests, CP24 asked Siri to find "escorts," "hookers" and "prostitutes," and was given Meltdown’s name, address, phone number and location, each time.
The 30-year-old says he and other owners believed the mix-up may have been caused by the similarity of the words "eSports" and "escorts."
"We were speculating that people were mistyping when doing a search or I thought my phone number might have been very similar to a service provider in Toronto," he stated.
But CTV’s technology analyst Carmi Levy claims this is "unlikely."
"Like Google, you ask Siri a question and hopefully it gives you the right answer, but it doesn’t always work that way," he explained. "Sometimes there are glitches and what comes back out is beyond our control. Unfortunately businesses get mixed up in it."
He says these errors are becoming "increasingly rare."
According to the so-called "tech-nerd," Siri incorporates algorithms which allow it to "learn from its experiences and refine its results."
"Every device has it and it is becoming easy to use, but the consequences when something like this happens are increasingly significant for legitimate establishments who are represented in a way that’s detrimental to their branding," he added.
Acyatan contacted Apple tech support on Tuesday via email and on Twitter, but has not heard back.
"It was time to nip it in the butt," he said.
Apple did not respond to CP24’s request for comment.
In the meantime, Acyatan and Meltdown’s other three owners are taking it in stride.
"For now it is fine, but I think the joke will wear its course," he said.
Acyatan plans to file a formal complaint with Apple by the end of the week.