BLACK VOICES

Siri's Definition Of 'Bitch' Is Beyond Offensive

You won't believe the response.

It seems people of color can't escape racial bias, even when talking to Siri.

Apple iPhone's staple feature defines the word "bitch" in an even more offensive way than one would think possible. When you ask Siri to define the word, the second definition it provides reads: "(informal, derogatory) a spiteful or unpleasant woman." The first sub-meaning underneath that definition reads: "(black slang) a woman." 

Even Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced online dictionary of slang words and phrases, has a top definition of "bitch" that's far less sexist and racist.

Siri isn't the primary source of this definition, however. Apple references the New Oxford American Dictionary for Siri's catalogue of definitions, though "black slang" isn't referenced in Oxford's current definition on its site. Software entrepreneur Elliot Turner wrote on Quora that Siri functions by "using data mashup technologies to interface with third-party web services... to perform actions, search operations, and question answering." Similarly, Google's search database uses the exact same definition.

Oxford University Press hasn't immediately responded for comment. 

This isn't the first time technology has used offensive language for black people. In June, Google apologized for tagging photos of black people as "gorillas." 

So it's not just everyday people who place stereotypes on people of color -- it's technology, too. Sigh.

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