Microsoft Doesn’t Think People In India Should Be Allowed to Search for the Term “Sex”

Microsoft Doesn't Think People In India Should Be Allowed to Search for the Term "Sex"

Thanks to sandelion for pointing out an interesting fact to me about Microsoft’s new search engine bing. I blogged about bing earlier this week and have been using it as my default search engine instead of Google all week. Apparently Microsoft has decided that part of their job with the new search engine is to become the world’s new censor.

At first I couldn’t believe this. Why would Microsoft think limiting the information provided in a search engine to be a good thing? But then I tried it myself. You can try it too. Just change your location preference in bing from the U.S. to India and try searching for the term “sex.” Yes, Microsoft has decided in their infinite wisdom that Indians should not be allowed to search for information about sex. In Microsoft’s words, “The search sex may return sexually explicit content. To get results, change your search terms.” That’s right, there’s no, “okay, I’m a big boy, go ahead and show me my results” button next to this Microsoft error message, there is simply a message telling you to change your search term. It’s like an instant trip back to the Victorian age.

Now in fairness, it seems that people in India could always just change their country preference from India to the U.S. to get these search results, but it’s still super lame that Microsoft would deem it necessary for people to have to change their country preferences to look up something as universal as “sex.” And many people of course won’t think to do this.

Google, by the way, has no problem with people searching for the term “sex” in India. I guess that’s all part of that whole “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful” thing that they seem to be after. Since bing supposedly stands for “bing is not google,” maybe Microsoft should adopt their own mission statement for bing. It could be “censoring the world’s information and making it inaccessible and useless.”

This sort of censorship is a really stupid decision on Microsoft’s part. It’s the biggest reason yet I’ve heard for why I won’t use bing anymore. Censorship sucks Microsoft, don’t you know that yet?

More here.

On Slashdot here.

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37 comments on “Microsoft Doesn’t Think People In India Should Be Allowed to Search for the Term “Sex”
  1. Vic says:

    India is not the single case. Korea, China and the Arabian countries are other exceptions.
    I’d be really interested to hear Microsoft’s stand about this, seeing how other search engines don’t act on the same ideas.

  2. Weren’t the Indians the ones who wrote the Kama Sutra? Something tells me that they should be able to handle it.

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    Davis, Kama Sutra is another term that you’re not allowed to search for using bing in India.

  4. Sandra says:

    I searched for ‘bing censorship’ on both bing and google, and compared the number of times the India thing appears on each. Bing was only once and one completely irrelevant article. Google returned 3 results, including this blog

  5. Jabberwolf says:

    You guys are getting kinda desperate arent you?
    So people have to change country origon.
    Big whoop!

    Google itself helps censor political information. I think that is MUCH more dangerous.

  6. Gryphus says:

    I bet this is because Bing wants to sell itself as a government sponsored search engine in countries that bristle at Google’s insistence on telling users when it’s been required to censor sites. Google, even when adhering to censorship laws, still advocates making information free. Microsoft is saying “Look China, we’ll play nice in subjugating your people!”

  7. kevver says:

    I wonder what other things they might be censoring.

  8. Filk says:

    ..what is WRONG with this world, people?!??

    I typed in “hors d’oeuvres” on the Korean version and got ‘dog ballz’

  9. Filk says:

    sorry…bad joke…:P)

  10. P2R says:

    Come on, now. We can’t have Indians knowing about sex!

    Wait. How many of them are there again?

  11. Filk says:

    But, seriously now, folks…don’t you think that a LITTLE restraint is necessary in a world gone mad with rampant AIDS, teenage pregnancy, STD’s etc

    …am I advocating a ‘police state’ of censorship? No; however, I DO suspect that governmental intervention could be a factor (as was stated above) due to ppl there ‘freaking’ about rising population growth etc. BUT

    …to censor the very word ‘sex’ is rather supercilious in the remedy of that…what if (for example) one is concerned about a suspected sexually transmitted disease?

  12. Filk says:

    lol, P2R

    …as many as the extras in a Michael Jackson vid…:)

    Why not (instead) merely neuter the naughty politicians…?

    Earth’s population would be zero within 12 months

  13. Filk says:

    …and, CHINA!

    Let’s censor the word “lead”

  14. Patatino says:

    Same for Germany…
    They even don’t want us to search for “Strumpfhose” (Stocking) because “The search “Strumpfhose” may return sexually explicit content. To get results, change your search terms.”. “Strumpfhosen” (Stockings) however seem to be acceptable for Microsoft’s Censor Committee :-)

  15. Filk says:

    I like so TOTALLY resent that they DO that, Patatino…my bf wears stockingz, and he’s got the legs for them (OK, j/g again :P)

  16. stringcheese says:

    Apparently you can get results for “vagina” but not “penis”. It will also allow the other blocked terms as long as you put the word “vagina” in the search as well. i.e. “vagina sex”. It then suggested similar search terms like “penice”. Ridiculous.

  17. Bangkok Boy says:

    It’s the same in Thailand as in India.

  18. Dietmar says:

    That could very well be part of their marketing strategy: Get lots of news coverage for being the big bad censor first, make lots of people get their feet wet in this strange search environment, and then get lots of news coverage again for finally “unlocking” their search content in a very generous step… That was the stick, wait for the carrot.

  19. Sandelion says:

    If you search for ‘bing censorship’ in both Google and Bing, you get two very different results!

  20. Siebbi says:

    Sex is rather explicit but in Germany I even can’t search for the german word for tights/pantyhose (in german “Strumpfhose”, literally stocking trouser)!

  21. Not so bad~! Bing only refuses ‘sex’ in India. Bing refuses ANYTHING in China, we even couldn’t access Bing.com in China! :)

    Lucky u!

  22. Srihari says:

    I guess this is bad, but we gotta be able to laugh at ourselves…maybe Microsoft was thinking of us 1bn. horny Indians…! lol.

  23. VS says:

    This is quite a fascinating article – why blame Microsoft for following Indian laws, or those of any other country? If there is any concern of censorship it should be raised with the indian government. Pointing fingers at Microsoft for adhering to the law of the land is unfair.

    For all the Google lovers :- Google is no hero when it comes to censorship – they bent over backwards in China. If they really believed in ‘Do no evil’ they should have stood their ground and fought for freedom of the interet.
    Alas, search share is the #1 goal for Google, and the motto of ‘Do no evil’ is no longer true with Google.

    And, just because Google is serving up responses that show scant respect to local laws, every other corporate should not be expect to.

  24. googleGuy says:

    may be they couldn’t figure out what to display for that search, it returns so many results..
    and now they have an excuse!

    Welcome to MS world, “Crap is inevitable”

  25. Markus says:

    They even cencor it for Germany, in a country that does not only allow prostitution but also has laws how to “do it” …

  26. Markus says:

    Oh and on the subject “google is evil too”

    learn to differentiate betwen “legal requirement” and “non obligatory censor”.

    yea, thats two totaly different things, legal requiremnts are met or you are in trouble, that simple. Not nice but thats how all country handle it.

  27. Jason says:

    found this: http://help.live.com/help.aspx?project=wl_searchv1&market=en-US&querytype=keyword&query=hcraesefas&tmt=&domain=www.bing.com:80

    There are three safe search options that filter the sexually explicit content from the site.

  28. Vishwas says:

    Better i should continue using google then.. . Atleast it proves that Bing is useless for doctors. :)

  29. eighthwonder says:

    i stumbled up on bing last week, added it and dumped it after two minutes after i typed “pornography” in search box and it turned up blank…

  30. RedAct says:

    Purely out of scientific interest, I scrolled through all the country/region settings on Bing where ‘sex’ is banned, and this is how it stacks up:

    India
    Arabian countries
    Singapore
    China / Hong Kong
    Indonesia
    Malaysia
    Taiwan
    Thailand
    Turkey

    (Couldn’t figure out Korea, though — I’m sure they are OK with sex).

  31. ajaaay says:

    restrictions, how would your life change if you where not able to watch porn, will not be able to eat?, will you move to another country?, will you not be alble to live without induling in porn and then accusing those who restrict the internet that they are encourging rape!!…People its this mentality we need to elimite, nothing wrong with sex, but to broadcast hardcore porn, with no restriction availble to any child, that show vulger and disgusting images, humilating and degrading both men and women…IS THIS ENTERTAINMENT ?..is this entertainment goin to affect children ??..WILL you as a parent having watched porn on the net and knowing the vulger imagery be COMFORTABLE ALLOWING YOUR OWN CHILDREN ACCESS..?? do we not want to create an india, that actually has real pride, real love, real integrity, a happy, healthy, prosperous land both in body and mind……if we do then we have to start with our children and what they are being shown. Would anyone allow a boy of 13 years old to view porn and then defend that action with freedom of information, without seeing the bigger picture of the crass, shallow, negative culture it will breed.!!…you want to make a change….then start erasing and restricting VULGER images from the homes of children, men and women…..and by doing that the consiousness of the people will be tweaked into making that realistion that internet restriction is REQUIRED when anything and everything can be seen or accessed that is harmfull to the mind and body.

  32. r4ds says:

    For all the Google lovers :- Google is no hero when it comes to censorship – they bent over backwards in China. If they really believed in ‘Do no evil’ they should have stood their ground and fought for freedom of the interet.
    Alas, search share is the #1 goal for Google, and the motto of ‘Do no evil’ is no longer true with Google.

    And, just because Google is serving up responses that show scant respect to local laws, every other corporate should not be expect to.