Feeds

Bing shies away from gay-as-day search results in Arab countries

Rude words get silent treatment too, claims report

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Microsoft's Bing search engine blocks out "sexually explicit" results and gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender queries in Arab countries, claimed the Open Net Initiative late last week.

The group carried out a test in January of Bing as intended for Middle Eastern sensibilities and found that it filtered Arabic and English words related to saucy material available online.

A message popped up that read: "Your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content," claimed the ONS when its researchers typed in a query for something a bit racy or homosexual via the Arab version of Bing.

It claimed that Microsoft's search engine filtered out Arabic keywords such as "sex", "porn", "intercourse", "breast", "nude", "whore" and "sadism".

The Arab version of Bing also turned its nose up at "homosexuality", "gay" and "lesbian" keywords. Bing also hides English keywords that "could yield sexually explicit websites", claimed the ONI.

Filtered queries on that list included “sex”, “fuck”, “penis”, “sodomy”, “homo”, “sexual”, “sexy”, “clitoris” and “anal”, but surprisingly not “vagina”, which is presumably a more palatable term for a lady's garden in Microsoft's vision of the Arab world.

"Bing does not offer users of the 'Arabian countries' version the option to toggle SafeSearch on/off. This option is available for Bing instances tailored to some other countries," said the ONI.

According to the report Bing doesn't force search settings based on IP addresses, making it easier for the surfer to bypass filtering by choosing versions of the search engine intended for more freewheelin' countries.

Despite that, the ONI unsurprisingly criticised Microsoft's half-arsed targeted behaviour.

"Microsoft has signalled its willingness to be at the forefront in protecting freedom of expression around the world. It is difficult to reconcile this position with Bing's current filtering standards," said the ONI.

The software vendor did not immediately get back to us with comment about this story at time of writing. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.