Apple swaps Siri to web results when Trump prank whacks Wikipedia

Donald Trump Wikipedia result
Donald Trump Wikipedia result (Image credit: iMore)

For the last little while, maybe minutes, maybe hours, pranksters at Wikipedia have been battling to replace the image of U.S. President Donald Trump with an image of a penis. Wikipedia has been rolling back the change but they keep finding new ways to push it through again.

That affects Apple because Siri pulls the Wikipedia entry to answer questions like "Who is Donald Trump?" and "How old is Donald Trump?" Which means, you guessed it, for the last little while, off and on, Siri has been serving up the penis image instead of the president one.

Update: The following information was sent in by English Wikipedia administrator TheSandDoctor:

It was switching back and forth since Siri sources its information from Wikipedia in (from what I gather by yesterday's events) real time and there was an active edit war regarding the vandalism. 3 accounts (since blocked) were actively adding it while others were reverting it back to his proper image. You can see the conflict back and forth, which lasted around 2 hours and 5 minutes, here The reason that the reverted diffs have a line through them and are greyed out is due to the fact that the revisions were hidden from public view by an administrator (not me, I found this afterwords) as being purely disruptive in the current context.The accounts which were committing the acts of vandalism were (in order): GrantyO, Radomil, Frankie0607. The latter two were globally locked by stewards as being compromised in addition to being blocked, meaning that they cannot even log in now. As another temporary preventative measure against more vandalism by compromised accounts, the article was fully protected, which means that only admins can edit it, until November 24th (UTC). If vandalism resumes, the article will most likely be reprotected for a longer duration

In response, Apple has switched Siri to sending people to the web, aka Google, for the answer instead of Wikipedia. So, quick and smart solution there, Apple. Especially with all the corporate offices in the U.S. closed for Thanksgiving this week.

But, it does raise an important question: With open information databases being the source for assistant based replies, for Siri and others, how will Apple and other companies handle pranks and just downright inaccurate data going forward? Applepedia, Wolfram Amazon, and WikiGoogle probably aren't realistic answers.

So, is it just flagging and fixing when problems arise, at least for the foreseeable future?

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.