Microsoft censors Bing searches for Tiananmen Square: study

Microsoft censors recommendations on its Bing search engine for American customers trying up Chinese language President Xi Jinping, the Tiananmen Sq. protests’ “tank man” and different politically delicate phrases, in accordance with a brand new examine. 

Whereas typing in a time period like “Joe Biden” into Bing ends in a drop-down “autofill” field suggesting standard search choices, Microsoft eliminated the field for American and Canadian customers looking hot-button Chinese language phrases, researchers from Citizen Lab said

Different names allegedly censored by Bing embrace Li Wenliang, a doctor-turned-whistleblower in Wuhan who angered Chinese language authorities by talking out concerning the severity of the coronavirus in early 2020; Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese language billionaire affiliated with Trump adviser Steve Bannon; and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a key determine in Tibetan Buddhism who was kidnapped by Chinese language authorities on the age of six. 

“We persistently discovered that Bing censors politically delicate Chinese language names over time, that their censorship spans a number of Chinese language political matters, consists of no less than two languages, English and Chinese language, and applies to completely different world areas, together with China, the US, and Canada,” wrote the Citizen Lab researchers, who’re affiliated with the College of Toronto. 

Researchers say Microsoft censored the autofill field for American and Canadian customers who typed in “tank man.”

A Microsoft spokeswoman stated the corporate had addressed the problem, saying, “a small variety of customers might have skilled a misconfiguration that prevented surfacing some legitimate autosuggest phrases, and we thank Citizen Lab for bringing this to our consideration.” 

The information underscores Microsoft’s in depth enterprise in China. The tech large employs 1000’s of researchers within the nation and is presently hiring up within the metropolis of Suzhou for a secretive actual property staff, The Submit solely reported on Monday. 

Xi Jinping
American and Canadian customers typing within the identify of Chinese language President Xi Jinping weren’t given autofill recommendations, researchers stated.
Xinhua/Sipa USA

The corporate has lengthy thought-about cooperating with the Chinese language authorities to be an inexpensive value of doing enterprise within the nation. 

Till October 2021, Microsoft ran a censored model of careers website LinkedIn that had repeatedly obeyed authorities orders to take down posts from journalists, lecturers and different dissidents. 

After going through scrutiny from activists, Microsoft shut down LinkedIn China attributable to “larger compliance necessities” and stated it could change it with a brand new careers website that doesn’t embrace the power to share articles or make posts. 

As well as, Bing caught flak in 2021 when it censored photographs of the Tiananmen “tank man” within the US and Europe on the thirty second anniversary of the bloodbath. Microsoft attributed the censorship to “unintended human error.” 

Microsoft additionally eliminated the autofill function from Bing in China final yr amid strain in a transfer it stated was required to adjust to native legal guidelines.

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