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This article was published on March 7, 2010

Bing bans “sex” in the Middle East

Bing bans “sex” in the Middle East
Khaled AlSaleh
Story by

Khaled AlSaleh

Khaled’s passion for tech started at a young age. He believes it may have been somewhere around the age of four when he first tried to elect Khaled’s passion for tech started at a young age. He believes it may have been somewhere around the age of four when he first tried to electrocute himself while putting the laws of physics to test, and the age of 6 when he received his first computer, a ZX Spectrum 16K/48K. Since then, he has developed a passion for all things digital and has been known to spend hours fiddling with toasters that have some intelligence in them. He still can’t make a sandwich though! To learn more about Khaled visit his LinkedIn profile at

Type the word “sex” in Bing from any Arabic-speaking country and what do you get? The following message:

The Open Net Initiative (ONI)  reported on Friday that Microsoft has gone all prudish on us now and is filtering all Arabic and English terms for sexually explicit content, so if you’re a high-school student preparing for a Sex Ed class. Tough!

Actually, the terms uncovered by the brilliant report, available here, are:

Sure I’d hate for a little, impressionable young kid to be exposed to inappropriate content, but, Microsoft, isn’t that what your “Safe Search” feature is for or do you not trust it to work?

Why you need to ban a whole region from searching for explicit-sounding content is beyond me! For those that don’t know, many of the regional governments already block websites they deem morally and politically reprehensible, so this senseless move by Microsoft just crippled the internet even further… I wonder what else the good folks at “we do all sorts of evil” are up to!

Turns out this doesn’t just apply to the Arabic-speaking world, it also applies to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Turkey, Thailand (really!), Singapore, and Malaysia!  I’m shocked Indonesia is not on that list, but hey: stupid is, what Microsoft does!

How effective is such a ban? Well, you may recall that Google recently went down this road in China when it caved to pressure from the government and blocked certain search terms. That episode came to a sudden and abrupt end when the Chinese Government decided to hack Google’s servers! Turns out, there’s no honor amongst Censors after all!

Enough of me … Leave a comment below and tell us what you think: is Microsoft right to do this, or should sane adults have more say in what they can and can’t search for!

[images courtesy of ONI]

Pssst … to get around this filtering just use the US or UK version of Bing!