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Careful! Your iPhone's Siri could easily embarrass you

Rosa Golijan / msnbc.com

"Call me Pumpkin," I whispered to my iPhone 4S on a lonely evening. Siri — the virtual assistant feature built into the device — chirped briefly before acknowledging my request in a dulcet tone.

"From now on, I'll call you 'Pumpkin.' OK?"

I smiled. This new iPhone and I would get along just fine.

Or so I thought until I realized that Siri is a conniving harpy who'll reveal our intimate terms of endearment to anyone with whom I'd shared my contact information.

You see, Siri remembers what to call me because there is an entry in my contacts with my name on it. There Siri is able to make a note of all my details — such as who my parents are and which nicknames I prefer. Siri needs those notes in order to take the appropriate actions when I question who I am or tell her to call my mom.  

Of course, that contact entry also happens to be what I send to new acquaintances — in the form of a vCard — in order to easily inform them of my alternate phone number and my email addresses.

Are you noticing the problem?

Mozilla Labs lead designer Kevin Fox certainly did.

"What happens in Siri doesn't stay in Siri," he proclaims before explaining that the virtual assistant has no discretion and that the nickname entry on your contact card is indeed passed on to others when you send them a copy of your vCard.

So how do you avoid revealing to your friends that you have your iPhone call you Cookie, Cupcake, Darling, Schnookums, and the like?

Simple: Create a second contacts entry for yourself — one to which Siri won't be making additions — and send that one to new pals instead of the one with embarrassing pet names attached.

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