Canada: Asking Siri about 9/11 attacks has caused a huge spike in prank 911 police calls

Mary-Ann Russon International Business News

Canadian police have officially requested that people stop asking iPhone personal assistant Siri about the September 11 attacks, as it is leading to a huge number of hang-up calls on the 911 emergency line.

If you say the words 'nine eleven' to Apple's personal assistant Siri, it will dial the police in Canada (IBTimes UK)

If you say the words ‘nine eleven’ to Apple’s personal assistant Siri, it will dial the police in Canada (IBTimes UK)

The Regina Police Service in Saskatchewan, Canada, says internet users have been posting on social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, daring people to activate Siri and say the words “nine eleven” into the microphone on their iPhone.

Siri is a personal assistant on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system that automatically searches the internet for information. Its voice recognition is not yet 100% perfect and it often mishears what people say, but it is able to do simple things like find a website, look up the weather or call a takeaway for pizza.

The messages posted on social media say things such as “Say 9/11 into Siri and you’ll be amazed”, or “When you say 9/11 to Siri, her response is hilarious”, which prompt users to try it out, in case they unlock a cool and funny Easter egg (a joke programmed into software on purpose).

But the problem is so bad, the police received 114 hang-up calls within just two hours on Sunday 21 June alone and they are not happy.

“When someone dials 9-1-1 and hangs up, the communications officer is obligated to call the phone owner back to establish whether or not there is a bona fide emergency. Without more information, there is no way to tell if the 9-1-1 call is a prank or real,” Regina Police admonishes in a press release.

“The process of re-establishing contact can involve several tries and can tie up resources that could be needed for real emergent situations. In the most serious situations, where a person misleads police and causes them to enter into an investigation, there could be a criminal charge resulting.”

The police say they are fortunate that so far, they have not been delayed in helping anyone in a real emergency but they are concerned that this will happen in the future.

The Regina Police Service said: “Please, choose to be a good citizen and DON’T ask Siri about 9/11.”

In the UK, if you say “9-1-1” to Siri, it will call emergency services, even though this is the number in the US and Canada.

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