That's a non-denial denial if ever there were one. It's a bit tough to parse what he's trying to say, but it sounds as if he's saying that yes, it's true that results were altered, but it was a mere accident. And was it also an accident that the results removed exactly match the results removed in China because of censorship? Weitz isn't saying.
Microsoft had also censored Chinese-language results in the U.S. and China for searches for FreeWeibo.com, a site that lets people anonymously search through Chinese social media services. Microsoft had this to say about that censorship:
"With regards to the freeweibo.com homepage being absent from Bing search results, our investigation indicates that at some time in the past the page was marked as inappropriate due to low quality or adult content. After review, we have determined the page is acceptable for inclusion in global search results.
"Bing aims to provide a robust set of high-quality, relevant search results to our users. In doing so, Bing has extremely high standards that respect human rights, privacy and freedom of expression.
But Greatfire notes in its latest blog about the issue that even when Bing's safe search is turned off, which will allow searching for adult content, freeweibo.com didn't turn up in searches.
And if Microsoft's credibility hadn't already been destroyed in this issue, Reuters notes that Microsoft even censored its denial of the allegations when it sent the denial to Chinese news media. Reuters reports:
Microsoft sent a shortened version of the statement to China-based media organizations which omitted all reference to GreatFire.org and did not address the allegations.
"There were too many points in the original statement," a China-based Microsoft spokeswoman told Reuters.
Microsoft isn't the only company to kowtow to Chinese censors. Apple does the same thing, by banning certain apps that mention the Dalai Lama or other figures and issues from the App Store in China. That's bad enough. But censoring the results in the U.S. goes far beyond that. Microsoft's thoroughly non-believable denial makes things only worse for the company.
It's simple: Microsoft is flat-out wrong here. It needs to stop censoring Bing for the Chinese censors, and not just in the U.S. but in China as well. And it should admit to the truth of what it's doing as well.
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