Yesterday, The Guardian reported that Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, appears to be censoring information for Chinese-language users in the U.S. as they would censor results in mainland China. Microsoft denied these allegations and blamed it on a technical error.
It appeared that Chinese-language searches for controversial topics showed different results. Censorship blog Greatfire detected this issue when searching for FreeWeibo.com, a website that allows anonymous searches of Chinese social networks and blogs.
Charlie Smith, the author of the blog, told The Guardian that FreeWeibo’s homepage did not appear on Bing but it appeared on Google. Bing users that searched for Chinese-related topics like the Dalai Lama, the Tiananmen Square protests, and the Falun Gong movement showed different results in the U.S. for English- and the Chinese-language searches.
Bing senior director Stefan Weitz denied in a statement to The Verge that Microsoft was censoring information outside of China. He said that the absence of FreeWeibo’s homepage was because of an error in Bing’s system. The homepage was somehow marked as inappropriate due to low quality or adult content. Weitz and the Bing team reviewed the website and accepted it for inclusion again.
The Guardian found that an English-language Bing search for the Dalai Lama would show his official website with links to his Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia pages. However, a Chinese-language Bing search conducted outside of China showed a documentary made by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV followed by a result for him on Baidu Baike. Baidu Baike is a heavily-censored Chinese version of Wikipedia.