Microsoft Bing serves up and suggest child pornography in search results

Microsoft Bing isn’t showering itself in glory

MICROSOFT’S BING ISN’T our preferred search engine, and we don’t expect it to be in the future given it’s been found to serve up child pornography in its results.

That grim revelation was found by TechCrunch, which after getting an anonymous tip that Bing was propagating child pornography images, commissioned Israeli online safety startup AntiToxin Technologies to look into the issue.

The study found that searches on Bing using recognised paedophile terms and the ‘Safe Search’ mode turned off served up images showing child abuse, which is obviously illegal even if the images and content don’t show children involved in a sexual act.

We’d better put in a disclaimer that you shouldn’t try and find this out for yourself otherwise you’d be committing a crime and could end up in the clink or on a sex offenders list. As such, we can’t, nor indeed want, to confirm TechCrunch and AntiToxin Technologies’ findings.

Presenting child pornography in search results is grim enough, but more disturbing is that the algorithms behind Bing apparently served up recommendations of child pornography based on previous searches.

When the same terms were fired at Google Search, the results served up didn’t contain any child pornography images or results.

As such it looks like Microsoft has really, seriously dropped the ball with Bing. Redmond’s boffins and the search engine itself should have had adequate measures in place to prevent illegal content being served up that could assist paedophiles.

Microsoft ‘fessed up to the problem when TechCrunch flagged it and noted that its engineers are working to remedy the issue.

“Clearly these results were unacceptable under our standards and policies, and we appreciate TechCrunch making us aware. We acted immediately to remove them, but we also want to prevent any other similar violations in the future. We’re focused on learning from this so we can make any other improvements needed,” Microsoft’s chief vice president of Bing & AI products Jordi Ribas told TechCrunch in a statement.

But AntiToxin Technologies apparently found that while some search terms have been banned, others still serve up child pornography results. So it would appear the Microsoft still has some work to do.

A Microsoft spokesperson also responded to TechCrunch‘s query as to why Bing served up search results for illegal content: “We index everything, as does Google, and we do the best job we can of screening it. We use a combination of PhotoDNA and human moderation but that doesn’t get us to perfect every time. We’re committed to getting better all the time.” 

Clearly, Microsoft needs to tighten up its screening for illegal content in Bing, as serving up child pornography in search results is simply unacceptable. µ

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