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Investigation shows Bing displaying, suggesting child pornography

Bing
Bing (Image credit: Windows Central)

Bing has a problem with child porn, a new investigation has found. A report conducted by online safety firm AntiToxin at the behest of TechCrunch found that Bing would readily display child pornography in its image search results. Further, the search engine would suggest related terms to search for.

According to the report, AntiToxin found that Bing would surface the illegal imagery when queried for a handful of search terms, including "porn kids" and "nude family kids." The researchers also found that Bing would suggest related search terms, specifically when searching for images related to online video chat service Omegle.

Bing's "Similar Images" feature also served up additional illegal images related to the original search terms.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Jordi Ribas, Microsoft's Chief Vice President of Bing and AI Products, responded:

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.

A Microsoft engineering team was tasked with banning and cleaning up search terms and results found in the report, and the company is working on banning similar searches. Further research by AntiToxin, however, showed that some search terms still return illegal imagery.

Going forward, Microsoft told TechCrunch, the company is planning to add more categories for users to report through content flagging. In response to a question about how the problem occurred, a Microsoft spokesperson told TechCrunch: "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."

Still, there's no doubt that this is a disturbing failure on Bing's part. As the report notes, similar searches conducted with Google "did not produce as clearly illegal imagery or as much concerning content as did Bing."

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

36 Comments
  • UGH!!! that is not good.
  • Very ugly news for Bing!
  • Soooo people are putting "porn kids" in search and then getting upset that child porn comes up?🤔
  • Bing should block those searches, that is the problem.
  • Yikes. This is not something to do a half-a**ed job on, Microsoft. Better fix this and stay on top of it.
  • And people think Bing is a bad search engine....just kidding. While of course child pornography is unacceptable, I find it a little ironic that it's almost like it's too good at searching for things. Bing is stereotypically thought to be inferior.
  • Umm, a shame it cannot find other things that are legal to find. Bing is not that great, to be honest.
  • When Bing first started I was still using Google half the time, but honestly I use it 100% of the time for a long time now. Maybe it's a good fit whatever I search for.
  • I find everything I need on Bing, can't remember the last time I used scroogle.
  • It's interesting that they focused on Bing. They kind of glossed over the fact that Google had a problem as well, but just not "as much concerning content" It would seem Google needs to step up its game as well.
  • The worst part of this is that the image filtering team has to do this manually, and its caused a lot of psychological issues for those tasked with reviewing results. I don't know what the right approach here is, but its horrifying for anyone who has to work such a job to constantly have to view the absolute worst about humanity (their job covers more than just child porn).
  • if you search for and view child porn as your job but you aren't law enforcement, how is that even legal as a job?
  • Blocking certain results from coming up is different from catching the people who are involved in it. I'm assuming there is some kind of exception
  • https://www.geekwire.com/2017/lawsuit-ex-microsoft-employees-claim-ptsd-... Someone has to review flagged content.
  • Imaging involving law? It would never get done in time.
  • In an episode of the 2015 Series, Dark Net they actually interview staff at the third party company to which Bing outsources its human review program. They have a high turnover rate, and lots of PTSD like David Fleetwood says.
  • Agree actually Google is worse. Really Bing safe search does work most of the time. Google safe search works zero of the time. 8 out 10 Google safe searches I get offensive content searching for anything.
  • Inexcusable that only now, AFTER they're called out on it, that they're trying to "make improvements". When you run a search engine for years, there are certain terms that are no brainers to not allow, and certainly not to suggest improved results for. Ribas' response is PR mumbo jumbo. Somebody's head should roll over this one.
  • That's awful, and hopefully Bing fixes it. I think Google, Bing and others need to go further. Porn and violence and such is far too easily accessible. In the day and age where kids have access to the internet with ease, I think it needs to be made more difficult to access adult content. I've typed plenty of innocent search terms in search engines only to see pictures of hardcore porn. At the very least, filters should be enabled by default. I know adults who don't want to stumble upon half the crap that's out there.
  • Bing enables SafeSearch by default, and I've found it to be effective.
  • Weird. I bought a new computer for my parents and had to enable it
  • That is weird, every device I have has it on moderate by default. Is that a US only setting because we are so uptight?
  • Is always moderate by default for me, I'm in the US
  • Why are we upset that a search engine is doing its job and finding what you search for? Sure this stuff shouldn't be out there in the first place, but it is NOT Microsoft's or any other site's job to filter out the world. That is ridiculous. Also, is this with the safe search filter on? If it is with it turned off them there really is no reason to be upset. I feel like there shouldn't be any blocks on any content with that off. If this stuff is really this easy to find, then law enforcement needs to do a better job at getting rid of it.
  • Just another reason to not use Bing.
  • One step closer to flushing out Ultratech.
  • This is NOT good news for Bing.
  • I think I'm going to throw up... surely there has to be stringent keyword blocking.... without manual scanning...
  • Really? Block "child porn" search would prevent discoverability of an article like this one. I can assure you actual child pornography does not target "child" and "porn" keywords.
  • They should be taking down the content, not breaking Bing to exclude search results. That is what makes Bing great, its way more organic than Google.
  • Hmmmm I have tried many, and it didn't find anything.
  • Who are these sickos searching for child porn?
  • Or perhaps the law enforcement agencies should use Bing to fine these sites and take them down. Removing them from search does not prevent anyone from sharing tur URL and accessing the content.
  • is it just popping up when you search for other stuff due to poor content filters or bad algorithms?
  • It would be a combination of very effective algorithms with poor content filters. This, paired with increasingly effective indexing and and improving skillsets for web developers working for adult content providers, makes these events inevitable but necessary to raise awareness.
  • they might as well call out Microsoft for designing Windows in a way that even allows those kinds of disgusting photos to be viewed...