Monday, October 3, 2022

Microsoft censors Bing Xi Jinping, searches for Tiananmen Square: Study

Microsoft censored suggestions on its Bing search engine for US users looking at Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tiananmen Square protesting “tank man” and other politically sensitive words, according to a new study.

Citizen Lab researchers said Microsoft has hot-buttoned for US and Canadian users searching for Chinese words in a drop-down “Autofill” box suggesting popular search options when typing words like “Joe Biden” into Bing. Box removed.

Other names allegedly censored by Bing include Li Wenliang, a doctor-turned-whistleblower in Wuhan who angered Chinese officials in early 2020 by speaking out about the seriousness of the coronavirus; Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire affiliated with Trump adviser Steve Bannon; and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a prominent figure in Tibetan Buddhism who was kidnapped by Chinese authorities at the age of six.

“We have consistently found that Bing censors politically sensitive Chinese names over time, that their censorship extends to many Chinese political topics, including at least two languages, English and Chinese, and that China, the United States They are applicable to different world regions, including the US and Canada, wrote the researchers from the Citizen Lab, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

'Tank Man'
Researchers say Microsoft censored the autofill box for US and Canadian users typing in “Tank Man.”
AP

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company addressed the issue, saying, “Some users may have experienced misconfiguration that prevents certain valid autosuggestion terms from appearing, and we would like to bring this to our attention.” Thank you Citizen Lab.”

The news underscores Microsoft’s broader business in China. The tech giant employs thousands of researchers in the country and is currently hiring for a secret real estate team in the city of Suzhou, The Post reported exclusively on Monday.

Xi Jinping
Researchers said US and Canadian users who typed in the name of Chinese President Xi Jinping were not given autofill suggestions.
Xinhua/Sipa USA

The company has long considered cooperating with the Chinese government a reasonable cost of doing business in the country.

As of October 2021, Microsoft ran a censored version of the career site LinkedIn, which had repeatedly complied with government orders to remove the posts of journalists, academics and other dissidents.

After facing scrutiny from activists, Microsoft shut down LinkedIn China due to “greater compliance requirements” and said it would replace it with a new careers site that doesn’t include the ability to share or post articles.

In addition, Bing drew criticism in 2021 when it censored images of Tiananmen “Tank Man” in the US and Europe, marking the 32nd anniversary of the massacre. Microsoft attributed the censorship to “accidental human error.”

Microsoft also removed the autofill feature from Bing in China last year, in a move amid pressure it needed to comply with local laws.

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Nation World News Desk
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