Report says Microsoft is censoring politically sensitive Chinese names in the US, Canada

midian182

Posts: 7,902   +82
Staff member
A hot potato: We're used to hearing stories about China censoring its internet, but it seems the practice appears in North America and Canada, too. That's according to researchers who say Microsoft makes it harder for users in those countries to look up politically sensitive Chinese personalities on Bing.

The Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at The University of Toronto, analyzed Microsoft Bing's autosuggestion system and found that the names of Chinese party leaders, dissidents, and other persons considered politically sensitive in China were censored from appearing in the search engine's autosuggestions—I.e., they don't appear when users start typing them.

Politically sensitive people are the second-largest category of names censored by Bing's autosuggestion feature—only those relating to eroticism had more.

In tests carried out last year, some of the names that Bing wouldn't fill included Chinese President Xi Jinping, deceased human-rights activist Liu Xiaobo, and Tank Man—the nickname for the protestor who famously stood in front of the tanks leaving Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The censorship applies to names written in both Chinese characters and English letters, and the same issue was found in the Windows Start menu search and DuckDuckGo, which uses Bing's autosuggestion data.

The most surprising part of the investigation is that it appears the censorship applies to regions outside of China, including the United States and Canada. The researchers say this "must be the result of a process disproportionately targeting names which are politically sensitive in China."

Microsoft claims human error was behind the issue, and it has now been addressed. That's the same excuse it gave when Bing was found to be censoring images of Tank Man last year.

"A small number of users may have experienced a misconfiguration that prevented surfacing some valid autosuggest terms, and we thank Citizen Lab for bringing this to our attention," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Jeffrey Knockel, senior research associate at Citizen Lab, warned of the dangers that come from censorship rules leaking from one part of the world into another. "If Microsoft had never engaged in Chinese censorship operations in the first place, there would be no way for them to spill into other regions," he said.

Permalink to story.

 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
Considering the amount of censorship and "quiet deletions" being done by American media, I see them having absolutely no room at all to point the finger at China.

At least China recognizes the threat to its citizens from American media and openly banned, blocked or reduced access to it in order to ensure they don't lose their people's productivity.

 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
Considering the amount of censorship and "quiet deletions" being done by American media, I see them having absolutely no room at all to point the finger at China.

At least China recognizes the threat to its citizens from American media and openly banned, blocked or reduced access to it in order to ensure they don't lose their people's productivity.
At least we can talk about and argue the merits of it in the west... try having this debate in China...
 

Geralt

Posts: 1,128   +1,750
Considering the amount of censorship and "quiet deletions" being done by American media, I see them having absolutely no room at all to point the finger at China.

At least China recognizes the threat to its citizens from American media and openly banned, blocked or reduced access to it in order to ensure they don't lose their people's productivity.
Yes, I agree. It's the same crap with different smell. At least the Chinese are frank and sincere.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
Yes, I agree. It's the same crap with different smell. At least the Chinese are frank and sincere.
I call BS on that... of COURSE they can be "frank and sincere" - they are a DICTATORSHIP!

Anyone who disagrees must either stay silent or face fines, prison or worse.

I find it amusing that it's our regular China and Russia apologists who think otherwise...
 

MyIOnU

Posts: 77   +207
Of course, these corporations only dare to cry out free speech in US, but then bend over and let the CCP *** in the ***.
 

MyIOnU

Posts: 77   +207
Considering the amount of censorship and "quiet deletions" being done by American media, I see them having absolutely no room at all to point the finger at China.

At least China recognizes the threat to its citizens from American media and openly banned, blocked or reduced access to it in order to ensure they don't lose their people's productivity.

Yep, America media only protect 'free speech' only if it is lining up with their view.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,156   +2,656
Do you really think any business, that makes BILLIONS from China, any business that is invested in China, any business that has production in China is seriously going to try to piss them off?
See what happens when you put all your business in China? Now, they CONTROL you.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 687   +508
Well, it's an internet forum... what else can ANYONE do?
I did not mean that in any negative sense towards you. It was a remark regarding the possibilities. Maybe Chinese can't talk on every big Chinese media portal, but they can outside of it, but it all comes to same result: it's just talk, and talk is cheap. Besides, even our ability to talk is "diminished" on certain platforms, we all know which platforms are those.
There are censoships everywhere. Some are imposed by countries, some by companies that have more money than most countries.
Only place where you can truly speak is in private setting. And you can do that in every country.
 

Crinkles

Posts: 245   +220
It's not like many people even use Bing

Bing usage
Top 20 Bing searches in the USA.
Facebook
YouTube
Google
Gmail
Bing homepage quiz
Amazon
Bing
News for you
Yahoo
eBay
Top stories
Facebook log in
Weekly quiz
Yahoo mail
Walmart
US news
Fox News
Bing weekly quiz
Google maps
NFL

'Microsoft' search advertising revenue since 2016:
Fiscal year (ends on June 30)
2016 $5.43 billion
2017 $6.22 billion
2018 $7.01 billion
2019 $7.63 billion
2020 $7.74 billion
2021 $8.53 billion

In 2017 Microsoft EARNED 150% more from search products than Tesla did with 2021's $3.2 billion.

It's not like many people even use Bing

There's >$40 billion dollars in that list. I have personally never paid a cent for a search product, but someone does. Probably a lot of someones, clearly google leads in this but so what..LOOK AT THAT INCOME.
 
Last edited:

ID10T

Posts: 20   +13
I sure wish more Americans understood how dangerous it is when Giant US companies are sucking the Shlongs of authoritarian dictators in CHINA while still having immense power to sway policy through lobbying here at home.
Guess im just being paranoid, maybe ill remove my T-hat.