Police: ‘Don’t ask Siri about 9/11’


Oh, Siri. You trickster.

Everybody loves a good Siri Easter egg, but they aren’t always “ha-ha” funny.

The city of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, has apparently seen some serious fallout in the wake of the latest viral “Ask Siri about … ” trend.

If you say “Okay, Google” to Siri, or ask it what the fox says, you’re going to get something funny — or at least funny-ish — in return. Apple’s digital assistant comes preprogrammed with a bunch of responses both silly and earnest. But if you ask Siri about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as recent posts on social media have suggested, the only thing that happens is that your phone will call 911 emergency services. And the CBC reports that this has caused a spate of unwanted hangup calls in Regina that tie up police resources.

“The Regina Police Service has a request for iPhone users after an unusually high number of 9-1-1 hang-up calls to the Communications Centre over the weekend,” a news release from the Regina Police Service says. “The messages on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media prompt people with a teaser like, ‘Say 9/11 into Siri and you’ll be amazed,’ or ‘When you say 9/11 to Siri, her response is hilarious. The response isn’t hilarious. What happens next is.”

We’ve been able to find a few instances of this sucker-bait online (e.g. “If you go on siri & say 9/11 it shows you the weirdest thing…” on one Tumblr page and this haplessness on Yahoo Answers). But it’s hard to say how prevalent or common it’s been. All we know is that it’s been a big enough problem that the Regina Police felt compelled to issue a news release.

When one accidentally dial 911 and an operator answers, their first impulse is probably to hang up. But the operator has to verify every call to make sure they aren’t missing any actual emergencies. This means that they have to call back and check to see if the person who was just asking a robot for details on a horrifying national tragedy has been stabbed or something. And this ties up resources.

“The Regina Police Service is asking people to be aware of the consequences of this latest fad,” the statement concludes. “We are fortunate, so far, that there haven’t been real 911 emergencies where help has been delayed. Please, choose to be a good citizen and don’t ask Siri about 9/11.”

  • jimmy6p

    Not Siri’s fault. Just idiots being idiots.

    • Apple should patch it regardless.

      • Boo Radley

        Then people will say that Apple is trying to kill them by not letting them use voice dial for 911. Apple is not your nanny, you are. If you can’t protect yourself from yourself then I’m going to have to go with survival of the fittest.

      • grace

        but how likely are people to voice dial by saying nine eleven instead of nine one one

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      • usrev

        or the voice command can be nine one one like the number you are dialing and not nine eleven which sound completely different.

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      • Don’t be silly. There are ways to get around this issue without blocking the 911 functionality. Make it register only when explicitly stated such as “Call nine one one” or “Dial nine one one.”

        Catering to users and fixing issues is what corporations do. I bet Apple patches this in the future.

      • Patch what, You can still call 911 and hangup even if you don’t use Siri, regardless when Siri makes the call you still have time to hang up before it connects. The idiots just wait until it connects to hang up. There is no patch for that.

      • Why? Because you say so?

      • No, because it is the right thing to do. People on Windows get fooled into doing stupid things all the time. This is people getting fooled into calling 9/11. You have to take care of your users even if it is their fault. A patch is needed for this.

        I am a software developer, and I can tell you if you let users do something wrong they absolutely will. You have to protect them.

      • So what? I’m a retired Software Engineer. People are not “getting fooled” into dialing. The app is doing it for them. And you can never code around all of the stupid out there. If you want to be a SJW, go ahead. I don’t care. It’s just that you come off as the all-knowing orb, and everyone should listen to you. Listen to yourself for once, and you’ll earn to shut up.

      • Actually they ARE getting fooled into dialing. Read the article. There are many people telling others to do it as a “joke” and they do it not expecting it to dial 911.

        If the user interacts with a device and expects one action but the device does another, especially one that is extremely bad, the device is failing at its task. Apple could and should easily patch this to register nine eleven as different than nine one one when spoken.

      • Problem with English, eh? The app is doing it. Nobody is being “fooled” into “doing” anything. From this point on, with you, I’m just gonna point and laugh, as I’m not here to teach.

      • If you would read the article you would clearly see that people are posting online about how you should ask siri about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. When they do, siri dials 911. This is not good behavior by siri. People are in fact being fooled into asking siri to dial 911. Such a situation should never arise as siri should be able to tell the difference between saying “dial nine one one” and “tell me about the nine eleven terrorist attacks.”

        I don’t understand how you are not comprehending this.

      • I comprehend it well enough. You, in tour arrogance, assumed I would take your word as the final say. That does not work in my world. When you grow up, we’ll talk. Until then, I’ll point and laugh.

        Zip – Out.

    • IrelandJnr

      I disagree. People should have to say “call 911”, not simply “9-eleven”. Nobody wishes to call the police by saying 9-eleven.

  • “Somebody tell me the number to Nine One One!”

  • Tark McCoy

    Siri: “Emergency services are being directed your way. Please remain calm while I transfer your Contacts list to the NSA…”

    • “..and record your conversations whilst I connect to your camera.”

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