Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

BLOG: Microsoft plays footsie again with Chinese censors — even in the U.S.

Preston Gralla | Feb. 13, 2014
Microsoft is being charged with doing the bidding of Chinese censors by censoring Bing search results not just in China, but in Chinese searches in the U.S. as well. Microsoft denied the allegations — but then even censored the denial before sending it to the Chinese media. Does Microsoft have any credibility left on this issue at all?

Microsoft is being charged with doing the bidding of Chinese censors by censoring Bing search results not just in China, but in Chinese searches in the U.S. as well. Microsoft denied the allegations — but then even censored the denial before sending it to the Chinese media. Does Microsoft have any credibility left on this issue at all?

Yesterday the Guardian reported that:

Microsoft's search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the US in the same way it filters results in mainland China.

The charges were first made by the blog Greatfire. When a variety of searches were done using Bing in the Chinese language in the U.S. and China, results were censored, when compared to results done in the English language in the U.S. For example, when Chinese language searches were done in the U.S. and China for the Dalai Lama, links were returned to "information on a documentary compiled by CCTV, China’s state-owned broadcaster. This is followed by two entries from Baidu Baike, China’s heavily censored Wikipedia rival run by the search engine Baidu. The results are similar on Yahoo, whose search is powered by Bing."

When the same search was done on Bing in English in the U.S., the lead link was to the Dalai Lama's own Web site, and then to links to the Wikipedia entry about the Dalai Lama, and a variety of news reports, including those from the Phayul.com, pro-Tibetan independence website. In addition, the search results page on Bing shows a photo of the Dalai Lama, while no such photo appears when doing a Chinese language search, even in the U.S.

That is just one example among many. Search for Bo Xilai, a former top Chinese official who is imprisoned for life because of corruption, and similar things happen.

Charlie Smith, who wrote the blog for Greatfire, told the Guardian:

"It’s a bit crazy. Any Chinese person who is searching in Chinese from overseas is being treated as if they have the same rights as a resident of mainland China. So we won’t show them the accurate search results if they search for Dalai Lama. What you get is state controlled propaganda. Except they don’t tell you the results have been censored. If you were in China they would at least tell you that."

In response, Microsoft issued a not-very-believable denial, with Stefan Weitz, senior director for Bing telling Reuters:

"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."

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.