If you know anything about the Internet, you’re well aware of the Great Firewall of China. The country polices what its citizens can and can not see on the Internet which means search engines wanting to operate in the country must censor their own results. Bing, being a search engine that operates in China, must censor its results like everybody else. What happens when Bing starts censoring in other countries as well though?
On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that Bing was censoring search results in the U.S. for searches made in simplified Chinese. The censored topics included the usual subjects, like the Dalai Lama, Tiananmen Square and other taboo topics that the Chinese government would rather its citizenry not see. The same search made in English would result in Bing returning the usual results you would expect in the U.S.
As you can imagine, this is all very troubling for a number of reasons. The most prominent being Chinese users in other parts of the world or those using VPNs to get around the Great Firewall would no longer get uncensored search results when using Bing. The Guardian also noted that these censored results wouldn’t tell you they were censored whereas searches made in China do.
Since the story broke, Bing has come out and said that they don’t censor search results unless the IP originated from inside China. Speaking to the Verge, Stefan Weitz, senior director of Bing, says that the censored results were the result of an error. Under normal operation, Bing would return uncensored results even if the one searching had their location set to China. As long as the IP doesn’t originate from within the mainland, the search results should be censorship free.
Of course, such a story can’t escape the ever watchful eye of our favorite Taiwanese animators. Here’s their take on it:
Image via Taiwanese Animators/YouTube