Feeds

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

Rude words get silent treatment too, claims report

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Microsoft: Windows version you probably haven't upgraded to yet is ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of Windows 8.1 will no longer support patches
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.