Tue, Jun 9th 2009 5:42am
When Microsoft launched its new Bing search engine recently, we didn't really know what to say about it. Some of us felt like Microsoft was trying to win the last battle against Google, rather than looking ahead to the next one; others pointed to pieces saying that Bing seemed more about knocking off Yahoo than Google, which it looks to have already done; others still pointed to all the next great search engines that have emerged over the years, and failed to unseat Google (remember Cuil?). But none of us mentioned Microsoft's apparent efforts to grab lots of search traffic by making Bing better at delivering porn results. There's been a minor flap over the way Bing displays videos in search results: users can access videos directly from the Bing site, and play a thumbnail version of them by putting their mouse over a preview image. This means that companies, schools or anybody else who wants to block the porn with web filters would have to block Bing completely (Microsoft has given a workaround, but it's pretty cumbersome). The uproar comes despite the fact that it's not all that different to the results delivered by other engines when searching for porn, although Bing seems to be a bit more, uh, comprehensive. While this sounds like a juicy mistake, the more cynical out there might see it as an intentional effort by Microsoft to grab search-engine market share by making Bing great for porn surfers. After all, it only delivers the videos -- and other sexual content -- to users from certain countries, so it seemingly is possible for Microsoft to keep at least some of it out. But with all the attention Bing's grabbed because of the uproar, and not to mention the traffic from porn surfers, it's hard to imagine they're too bothered.
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