Bing gets porn domain to filter out explicit images and videos

New domain set up to help companies, libraries keep explicit images out of search results

Microsoft Corp. has added a separate domain to its Bing search service just for pornographic images and video.

No, Microsoft isn't getting into the smut business.

Instead, the company is trying to make it easier for companies and organizations to filter explicit images out of search results.

Mike Nichols, general manager of Microsoft Bing, said in a blog post that potentially explicit images and video content now will be coming from one separate domain -- explicit.bing.net.

"This is invisible to the end customer, but allows for filtering of that content by domain which makes it much easier for customers at all levels to block this content regardless of what the SafeSearch settings might be," wrote Nichols. "Microsoft is never done when it comes to providing tools to help customers, whether they are large enterprises, local school districts or parents, make sure they can provide a safe searching experience when using Bing."

When Bing was first launched, there was some online chatter about explicit images popping up when videos were "previewed" in the search results. Microsoft had been quick to note that, by default, Bing "does not return explicit adult content in video or image results". But Nichols noted in another blog on June 4, that individuals and corporate IT executives had asked for more control.

And adding the porn domain was a good response to those requests, according to Dan Olds, principal analyst with Gabriel Consulting Group Inc..

"They were taking heat because of their video preview feature," he noted. "This is both a good idea and good PR. It's not like Microsoft is censoring anything. They're just categorizing it differently, which gives customers the option to either provide people in their organizations with the ability to search and view the content or to have it filtered out."

Olds explained that having the single porn domain basically means Bing is able to better categorize images and video as pornographic or not. Think of the old card catalogues in libraries. Bing, in essence, is taking all the "cards" that point to pornography and putting them together in one drawer. If all the porn is in that one drawer, companies and organizations can set up Bing searches so they don't get search results from that one drawer.

"It's not a secret that the Internet is chock full of porn," said Olds. "And, not surprisingly, there are a lot of organizations out there that don't want porn to show up on their systems - like public libraries, for example. Microsoft is giving systems and network managers a way to filter out explicit content before it even hits the internal network. It's a good move for Microsoft. If they can successfully position Bing as the search engine that will best filter out adult content, it will score them points with a lot of organizations."

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Sharon Gaudin

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
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