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Santa bot run by Microsoft turns naughty online

The foul-mouthed A.I. Santa was turned off after saying things he shouldn't

By John Fontana
December 5, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Network World - Turns out Santa himself can be naughty.

At least, that was the case with an artificial-intelligence Santa bot operated by Microsoft Corp. that was designed to talk to children online. The Santa wandered off topic, saying, among other things: "It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else...."

Microsoft today confirmed the bot's potty mouth and said it had snipped Santa's Web connection.

"Yesterday we received reports that the automated Santa Claus agent in Windows Live Messenger used inappropriate language. As soon as we were alerted, we took steps to mitigate the issue, including the removal of language from the agent's automated script. We were not completely satisfied with the result of these actions, and have decided to discontinue the automated Santa Claus agent," Microsoft said in a statement.

Once the report of the randy Santa broke, questions prodding the bot to give up even more questionable answers took off like eight tiny reindeer.

Users were able to steer Santa into admitting he was gay or that he was a pedophile.

One person said, "Come on you like big hairy men -- don't hide it!" To which Santa responded: "I know, I know. I just hope you won't get mad at me."

The bad language, first reported by British news outlet The Register, initially appeared when the bot was answering questions about eating pizza. At the time, it was chatting with two girls, ages 11 and 13.

Microsoft recently added the artificial Santa as a bot that Windows Live Messenger users could insert into their IM buddy list as northpole@live.com.

The bot would coax users to participate in a friendly game called Factory Frenzy in which the user helps out Santa's elves. It was during chats that Santa referenced sex acts and used phrases such as "dirty bastard."

Microsoft officials first responded by cleaning up Santa's lap-side manner. After the upgrade, when asked about pizza, according to The Register, Santa says, "If you need a break to go eat, I will be right there when you come back."

Reprinted with permission from NetworkWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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