Is Microsoft Censoring Bing for All Chinese Speakers?
Earlier this week, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was accused of censoring search results for users outside of China by the free speech advocacy group GreatFire.org. Now, the company is denying that it altered search results for politically sensitive topics like “Dalai Lama” in searches made on the Bing website outside of China. Microsoft is blaming a discrepancy in search results on a technical error, while GreatFire continues to claim it was the result of an act of censorship.
“Our latest research indicates that Microsoft’s search engine Bing is censoring English and Chinese language search on its home page in order to exclude certain results. We have also noticed that Bing is practicing subtle censorship with search results. In both instances, Bing is filtering out links and stories that the Chinese authorities would deem damaging,” GreatFire said on Tuesday.
“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,” Stefan Weitz, senior director for Bing, said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Wednesday. The news source also pointed out that a different version of the same statement was sent to Chinese media that didn’t address GreatFire’s claims or mention the organization at all.
The Internet in China is heavily censored by the government, which views things like social media and uncensored search results as a threat to the establishment. Now it appears as though Microsoft is censoring Bing for all Chinese language users, not just those based in China.