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Bada Bing, Bada Boom: Microsoft Bing’s Chinese Political Censorship of Autosuggestions in North America

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Some companies such as Facebook and Twitter do not presently comply with Chinese regulations, and their platforms are blocked by China’s national firewall. Other companies operate their platforms in China but fragment their user bases. For instance, Chinese tech giant ByteDance operates Douyin inside of China and TikTok outside of China, subjecting Douyin users to Chinese laws and regulations, while TikTok is blocked by the national firewall. Users of one fragment of the platform are not able to interact with users in the other. Finally, companies can combine user bases but only subject some communications to censorship and surveillance. Tencent’s WeChat implements censorship policies only on accounts registered to mainland Chinese phone numbers, and, until 2013, Microsoft’s Skype partnered with Hong Kong-based TOM Group to provide a version of Skype for the Chinese market that included censorship and surveillance of text messages. Platforms with combined user bases often provide users with limited transparency over whether their communications have been subjected to censorship and surveillance due to Chinese regulations.

Previous research has demonstrated a growing number of companies that have either accidentally or intentionally enabled censorship and surveillance capacities designed for China-based services on users outside of China. Our analysis of Apple’s filtering of product engravings, for instance, shows that Apple censors political content in mainland China and that this censorship is also present for users in Hong Kong and Taiwan despite there existing no written legal requirement for Apple to do so. While WeChat only implements censorship on mainland Chinese users, we found that communications made on the platform entirely among non-Chinese accounts were subject to content surveillance which was used to train and build up WeChat’s political censorship system in China. TikTok has reportedly censored content posted by American users which was critical of the Chinese government. Zoom (an American-owned company based in California) worked with the Chinese government to terminate the accounts of US-based users and disrupt video calls about the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.

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Bing censors search for Xi Jinping, Citizen Lab report finds

Microsoft Bing censors politically sensitive Chinese terms

  • Microsoft Bing censors politically sensitive Chinese terms

    Microsoft search engine Bing censors terms deemed sensitive in China from its autosuggestion feature internationally, according to research from Citizen Lab.

    The University of Toronto research organization analyzed the search engine's autosuggestion system for censorship of nearly 100,000 names in the United States, Canada and China in both English letters and Chinese characters. Testing was done by modifying region settings, language setting and IP address geolocation.

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