World News

    Microsoft Denies Censoring Bing Chinese Search Results

    The U.S. technology giant Microsoft has rejected allegations that its Bing search engine censors Chinese language results for users in the United States.

    Bing on Wednesday denied the censorship accusations. In a statement, Bing said it does not apply China's legal requirements to searches conducted outside of China.

    It did acknowledge, however, that an error in its system triggered "incorrect results removal notification for some searches." But it insisted the results themselves were uncensored outside of China.

    Earlier, an Internet freedom advocacy group, GreatFire.org, said censored results are appearing for search terms such as the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is regarded by Beijing as a "splittist."

    Percy Alpha, with GreatFire.org, tells VOA that Bing appears to be filtering out links and stories that Chinese authorities would view as damaging.



    "If I search Dalai Lama, almost all results on the first page, even on international Bing, are from Chinese (state-controlled) media...and the Bing results mostly portray Dalai Lama in a negative way."



    In our internal testing at VOA, using search terms commonly blocked or censored in China, such as "Dalai Lama (达赖喇嘛)" and "Bo Xilai (薄熙来)", results in Mandarin gave high ranking mostly to official Chinese sites or domestic Chinese sites that can be controlled by Beijing. The English searches had a much different result, displaying mostly western outlets. The searches were done using Bing.com in Washington.

    We also did a identical test using Bing's rival, Google, and came up with very different results in Mandarin, but similar results in English.



    Western companies have long been accused of complying with censorship demands in order to do business in China, which has nearly 600 million Internet users.

    But Alpha says what makes this case different is that Microsoft appears to be filtering certain results not only for users in mainland China, but also in the United States.



    Responding to the Bing statement, Alpha told VOA that nothing has changed, and that the results were still "clearly altered."

    Alpha believes business interests may be at play.



    "Microsoft has traditionally a really good relationship with China compared to other IT companies. So I think Chinese authorities may have asked them for a favor and they just did it. And there's a huge market share in China. Even though the server itself is not in China, Microsoft has huge business interests in China. Therefore, they might just comply with Chinese authorities to keep a good relationship with them."



    Microsoft has been slammed in the past by rights groups for censoring the Chinese version of Skype. It also drew condemnation in 2005 when it shut down the Chinese-language blog of journalist and activist Michael Anti.

    Paris Huang contributed to this report from Washington.

    (This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.)

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.