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.

Why I Don’t Think Microsoft’s New Bing Search Engine is For Me

Microsoft's New Bing

Ned: Phil? Hey, Phil? Phil! Phil Connors? Phil Connors, I thought that was you!
Phil: Hi, how you doing? Thanks for watching.
[Starts to walk away]
Ned: Hey, hey! Now, don’t you tell me you don’t remember me because I sure as heckfire remember you.
Phil: Not a chance.
Ned: Ned… Ryerson. “Needlenose Ned”? “Ned the Head”? C’mon, buddy. Case Western High. Ned Ryerson: I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Ned Ryerson: got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson: I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?
Phil: Ned Ryerson?
Ned: Bing!
Phil: Bing.

For the past two days I’ve been using Microsoft’s new Bing search engine exclusively. I’ve stopped using Google and instead used only Bing. The main reason why I did this was because I’d like to see viable competition to Google in the search engine space — plus I just like to try new things. After using Bing for two days exclusively though, I think I’ll probably be going back to Google. I’m still going to give Bing a couple more days but so far the Cons of using Bing outweigh the Pros.

As it see it, following are the positives and negatives of Bing.


1. The fact that Bing starts playing video thumbnails when you mouse over them in search results is super slick. This really helps in finding the video content that you are most interested in.

2. I really like image search on Bing. More specifically, I think the results are generally good and I *love* that I don’t have to page — that Bing incorporated’s endless scrolling of search results.


1. The biggest negative to me so far is the fact that Bing burries news search off the main page. I do many news queries every single day. Frequently I’ll be searching for something via Google and click on Google news. The fact that Bing makes you click on “more” to get to news search frankly flabbergasts me. This seems so basic that I honestly can’t believe someone at MSFT could not figure this one out. Instead of getting “news” search on the main page you get Shopping, MSN and Windows Live. How is it that MSFT has room for those search items but not “news?”

2. I’m not entirely happy with the search results. A case in point. Earlier today I was trying to find Microsoft’s Bing Blog so that I could leave some of these comments there. So I did a search on Bing for “Bing Blog” Microsoft. What comes up? Lots of less than relevant stuff, but anything but the actual Microsoft Bing Blog. What I was looking for. By contrast, I do a search for “Bing Blog” Microsoft on Google, I actually can find the Bing Blog in the first page search results.

It also feels to me like Google consistently has wikipedia entries higher up the search results list than Bing. I might be wrong on that, it’s just the impression that I got after doing several searches. Frequently wikipedia contains the most relevant info on a search subject and I like seeing them displayed more prominently.

3. The Bing stuff feels sluggish to me. Several times when I tried to load the Bing Blog (and most frustrating after I typed a lengthy comment) the page wouldn’t load. It seems to be hanging on “transferring data from” and so the community experience has not been good.

4. Microsoft only lets you set your settings preferences to allow 50 results per page during searches (Google by contrast allows you 100 items per search on a page). Paging sucks and the less that I have to do of it the better.

5. Microsoft Maps need a ton of work. I use Google Maps a lot. Mostly to set up maps of things that I want to photograph in various cities. MSFT seems to have a similar way to build your own maps using Bing Maps. They call them collections. I started making a “collection” of neon signs in San Francisco that I still need to shoot, but was really put off that my “collections” list is a huge box that blocks about 40% of my map view (you can’t drag this menu any place but directly over your map). With Google your saved locations sit in a column on the left side of the page and doesn’t block your map view.

Given that I use Map Search so much and that Map Search feels so clunky with MSFT, this is probably one more reason why I’d want to go back to Google.

I’m going to keep trying Bing for the next few days to see if things improve. But most likely I’ll be going back to Google as I doubt that they can improve any of the above negatives very quickly.

Update: It looks like “News” is now on the Bing home page. This definitely was not what I was seeing yesterday on the site. This is good news.