If you search for the Dalai Lama’s Chinese title, certain events in Tiananmen square, or any number of rumor-mongerin’ censorship topics on Microsoft’s Bing search engine, don’t expect reliable results. Many Chinese language searches are reportedly filtered by the country’s censorship apparatus, even for searches taking place outside of China.
This is either a technical glitch (i.e. Bing gleefully self-censors Chinese language results in China, and accidentally applied the same censorship to international users) or intentional, full-blown appeasement. Whether you’re a resident of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, or any number of “overseas Chinese” communities, when it comes to Bing, you’re a CCTV-watching, People’s Daily reading, PRC citizen.
The folks at FreeWeibo were apparently some of the first to notice the manipulated results, and they talked to The Guardian:
A Chinese language search for the Dalai Lama (达赖喇嘛) on Bing is lead by a link to information on a documentary compiled by CCTV, China’s state-owned broadcaster. This is followed by two entries from Baidu Baike, China’s heavily censored Wikipedia rival run by the search engine Baidu. The results are similar on Yahoo, whose search is powered by Bing. […]
“The first thing we noticed was our index page was not showing up. It specifically did not show the homepage. But it was in Google,” [Charlie Smith of FreeWeibo] said. […]
“So we won’t show them the accurate search results if they search for Dalai Lama. What you get is state controlled propaganda,” he said. “Except they don’t tell you the results have been censored. If you were in China they would at least tell you that.”
“We thought there had been a mistake so we wrote to Microsoft and they said ‘no comment,’” he said.
Microsoft, like Bloomberg a few months ago, have apparently decided that no price is too large so long as they can keep the Chinese market. The only comforting thing to acknowledge here is that nobody uses Bing anyways, and that this is about as consequential as censoring Google Plus.