A major flaw has been found in Bing. Thanks to Nicholas D. Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist for the New York Times. Kristof accused Bing for censoring results in simplified Chinese language searches and asked to Boycott Bing in his column to web users.
This is not the first time Bing is facing the heat for displaying pro-communist results for simplified Chinese language search queries that are politically sensitive in China like Tiananmen, Dalai Lama and Falun Gong. In late June Kristof complained with enough evidence on integrity of Bing search results.
For instance, say you had a search term in mind such as Tianamen, you will get relevant results and even images of the June 4, 1989, killings from Bing. Now search in simplified chinese character for Tianamen: ??? that is specifically used in mainland China, and more importantly among students of Chinese . Your results could bring back pages that have nice pictures of Tiananmen Square, but no hint of any killings. what’s more worse is that these censored results not just confined to mainland China but to the whole world.
This is not new to search engine companies on censoring their search results in favor of Chinese authorities. Even Google censors the results but on google.cn and not on google.com
As Nicholas D. Kristof commented in his column, “ Microsoft is sacrificing the integrity of Bing searches so as to cozy up to State Security in Beijing. In effect, it has chosen become part of the Communist Party’s propaganda apparatus.” Further remarked, “ Microsoft’s current position, which insults my intelligence and yours, is that there was indeed a bug of some kind and that that is fixed – but that searches in simplified characters continue to produce pro-Communist results because of the algorithms used. Mr. Kutz, now asserts that a search in any given language emphasizes results from within the country that uses that language. Thus if you search in the simplified characters used within China, then you get disproportionately Chinese propaganda. Thus, he says, the explanation lies in the search algorithms, rather than in Microsoft policy.”
And lastly, he questions “Huh? How come that wasn’t the explanation in June? And if that’s the case, then why is there a marked difference between text and image searches? And in any case, why should Bing use an algorithm that results in propaganda and skews results far more than Google? Why isn’t Wikipedia higher on the results with simplified characters?”
On the other hand Adam Sohn – Senior Director, Bing declined to confirm or deny the accusations and said in Bing’s post, “As Mr. Kristof reported over the summer, we did fix a bug in web search that addressed this issue. There are some queries that provide very balanced web results, for example ?? ??? (June 4th Tiananmen). We recognize that we can continue to improve our relevancy and comprehensiveness in these web results and we will.
In addition, today’s investigations uncovered the fact that our image search is not functioning properly for queries entered using Simplified Chinese characters outside of the PRC. We have identified the bug and are at work on the fix. We expect to have this done before the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Readers come after Thanksgiving holidays and search in Bing. Let us see whether Bing fix this so called Bug.
About the author: Lohith Amruthappa is a Search Engine Marketing specialist and blogger, currently managing inhouse SEO and PPC projects. You can visit for more information on SEO, PPC and Google analytics at http://www.lohithamruthappa.com