Is Bing Censoring US Searches on Chinese Topics?

The other day I had a little fun with Bing's search results on Windows 8 problems.  But this seems much more serious.  From a reader:

No comment.

That’s Microsoft’s response to new revelations that the search engine is censoring Chinese searches in the United States — not just in China. Searches on Chinese topics in the U.S. now produce markedly different search results than Google, results that mimic those  in China. China broadly censors the Internet, blocking topics like the Dalai Lama and Tiananmen Square.

The censorship blog Greatfire.org was the first to point out  that Bing’s search results display information propagated by Chinese authorities. A Chinese language search in Bing for the Dalai Lama (达赖喇嘛 in Chinese) produces two results from China’s Wikipedia (Baidu Baike) and one from the state-owned television station CCTV. In Google, the same search returns two Wikipedia entries and the Dalai Lama’s official site.

Click here to see the results in Bing, versus the results in Google.

Even more shocking, a search for the anti-censorship software FreeGate produces the result: “Due to restrictions on Chinese laws and regulations, we removed the results of these search terms. For more information, see here.”

Microsoft responded to a request from Charlie Smith’s Greatfire to explain the discrepancy. At first, the  software juggernaut replied: “We’ve conducted an investigation of the claims raised by Greatfire.org. First, Bing does not apply China’s legal requirements to searches conducted outside of China. Due to an error in our system, we triggered an incorrect results removal notification for some searches noted in the report but the results themselves are and were unaltered outside of China.”

But after finding the “due to Chinese laws and regulations” search result, Microsoft replied: “Thanks for your inquiry. We have no comment on this topic.”

Much more detail at the link, with examples and screenshots

  • MingoV

    Hardly surprising. Microsoft has been sucking up to the Chinese government for year. But, I have to wonder, is Microsoft making money there? The potential market is huge, but few Chinese own computers. Microsoft sells software to Chinese (mostly government and businesses) at very low prices, but piracy still is rampant. I don't see how Microsoft can be making a profit.

  • http://aguanomics.com/ David Zetland

    Maybe MS has outsourced the Bing algorithm to China?

  • Ward Chartier

    Having worked in China for 7 years, I have a different view of how many Chinese people own computers. For those that do not, there are many Internet cafes stocked with scores of computers. For a different perspective, visit one of the crowded multi-level electronics malls in China to see the several dozens of very busy stall keepers selling computers, peripherals, and accessories.