Microsoft Bing seemingly censors image results for Tiananmen Square 'Tank Man' pic (update)
Will Bing go after Winnie the Pooh imagery next?
What you need to know
- Microsoft's Bing is not displaying images for "Tank Man," a picture linked to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
- This image's global censorship is causing concern for many.
- People are wondering if Chinese censorship policies are affecting global knowledge repositories.
- Microsoft has issued a statement claiming the removal was in error.
Update: Microsoft has issued a statement declaring the removal an error. A Microsoft spokesperson told Business Insider "this is due to a human error, and we are actively working to resolve this." (Thanks to John C for the tip.)
It looks like Bing isn't a fan of the iconic Tank Man image, which depicts a lone man standing in front of tanks following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The image's absence comes on the anniversary of the protests.
China's been infamous for its censorship of the Tiananmen Square situation and what went down there, but those outside the country didn't typically have to worry about the subject being censored. However, Microsoft's Bing seems to be changing its tune on that policy.
As spotted by Google's Shane Huntley on Twitter, Bing-searching "Tank Man" will net you a "sorry, no results here" message instead of thousands of copies of the iconic picture (via Motherboard). DuckDuckGo, a search engine that utilizes Bing for results, displays the same message. In stark contrast, Google shows the image instead of pretending it doesn't exist.
I'd love to hear @BradSmi explanation on this.
I know Microsoft censor for the CCP in China, but this search is from the US. pic.twitter.com/2k6xrwARfnI'd love to hear @BradSmi explanation on this.
I know Microsoft censor for the CCP in China, but this search is from the US. pic.twitter.com/2k6xrwARfn— Shane Huntley (@ShaneHuntley) June 4, 2021June 4, 2021
What's odd is that Bing still shows results for Tank Man via traditional searches, so it's not like the apparent image censorship is enough to stop anyone from using the search engine to learn about the protests. However, the random gutting of all imagery for the iconic photo sets a strange precedent for most of the planet, which isn't supposed to be susceptible to Chinese censorship practices ("supposed to be" being the operative phrase in that sentence).
Microsoft has yet to comment on the matter as of this writing, but it will be interesting to see what the tech giant has to say. Whether future search topics will be globally censored in either the image category or traditional search field remains to be seen, but this is an unsettling incident even by itself.
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Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to email@example.com.