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Microsoft denies Bing search censorship for Chinese terms

12 Feb 2014
Bing Logo

Microsoft has been forced to deny that its Bing search engine is censoring some results for users across the world.

Research carried out by Chinese freedom of speech blog GreatFire.org explained how when certain terms are searched for using Bing's international and US-localised portals, some results are not delivered (pictured below).

For example, for the search term "达赖喇嘛" (Dalai Lama), GreatFire found that results displayed on Bing's Chinese and international sites were heavily censored, with no notice of the censorship on either the US or international search results.

In a statement to Reuters, Bing senior director Stefan Weitz said that a glitch had resulted in censorship notices being displayed on results pages, but insisted that no results had been changed. "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," he said.

However, GreatFire.org refuted the claims that search results had not been altered. At the time of publishing, the Chinese term 自由门 (Freegate) – even when a search is conducted outside of China – gave no results and instead displays this message. "Due to legal obligations imposed by Chinese laws and regulations, we have removed the results for these search terms."

All web companies that operate in China have to follow its stringent censorship laws in what is colloquially known as the Great Firewall of China. In the most high-profile spat with China, Google moved its Chinese operations to Hong Kong in 2010 following a series of cyber attacks that were believed to be politically motivated.

A censored search on the Chinese version of Bing

 

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Michael Passingham
About

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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