The fight for information behind the “Great Firewall” has generally been limited to those living in China. However, it’s coming to light that if you are among the 18.2% of search engine users who prefer Microsoft Bing in the United States over Google, certain results will find that Chinese censorship of the Internet also extends to the United States and the rest of the world.
To be fair, it’s not Chinese censorship, but rather Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) self-censoring results for such topics as jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. For those who have ever been to China, this should not come as a terrific surprise but for this to be the case in the States is the stuff of congressional inquiry, or should be soon.
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The report comes from cyber-monitoring group Greatfire.org who typed the aforementioned terms into Bing only to find that the Chinese language results are largely incomplete and vary tremendously from Google’s returns.
“This is the kind of story that begets a Congressional hearing,” the group, which tracks the vast Chinese online censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall, said in a statement releasing its findings.
“We are 100% sure our findings indicate that Microsoft is cleansing search results in the US to remove negative news and information about China,” it added. “And they are doing this in every market in which they operate in the world.”
When contacted by various news sources, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) declined to comment on the matter. Greatfire.org’s findings were confirmed by another monitoring group, AFP.
The found that English-language searches for “Liu Xiaobo” returned first-page results from sources like The New York Times, the official Nobel site, and the Christian Science Monitor. Conversely, the same search in Chinese saw six of the first 10 results leading to Chinese government sites and their disparagement of Liu. One of these results even included a compilation of Liu’s more controversial statements.
Google searches in Chinese performed in the United States returned a variety of material from sources including Voice of American and the BBC.