Feeds

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

Rude words get silent treatment too, claims report

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.