Setting the Record Straight

There has been discussion over the past day or so that Bing results for Chinese language queries done outside of China are somehow intentionally edited or incomplete for political censoring purposes. We can emphatically confirm that they are not. The only time Bing adjusts search results is to comply with local law or for quality or safety reasons such as child abuse or malware. Bing search results outside of China are not subject to and are not modified in any way based on Chinese law.

The error we referenced yesterday was one where we incorrectly showed a Chinese ‘removal notification’ message outside of China to users who have selected to view Bing’s People Republic of China version. This message was displayed outside of China with this PRC version of Bing where results were suppressed for any reason (child abuse content, spam, etc.).  Again, the search results outside of China were unaltered, and were not censored.

We understand that with casual inspection, users may be concerned about censorship when seeing the ‘removal notification’ message intended for users in China and some difference in results between Chinese language and English language searches, but again we can confirm this is not the case. The wrong notification message is simply being displayed in limited circumstances, and we are in the process of fixing that issue.

It has been noted that some popular sites such as Facebook are at times not shown in China. The fact that results from such sites are shown in Bing outside of China when using the Chinese language is an easy way for anyone to quickly reassure themselves that the results are not being censored.
The reason results are different for Chinese and English queries however, is because searches in different languages are fundamentally different queries. A result may show lower in one language versus another for a variety of reasons, such as fewer users choosing that link in English results compared to users who searched in another language. As always, however, we are constantly evaluating how to deliver the best results to our customers around the world.

– Stefan Weitz, Senior Director, Bing