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This option is available for Bing instances tailored to some other countries.
- There is no filtering by keywords if a user chooses another country (e.g., United States, Canada) as their location even if they are physically located in an Arab country.
It is difficult to assess the impact of Bing’s filtering policy on access to information and freedom of speech in Arabic-speaking countries.
The fact that users can easily switch to another search engine that does not filter its results (e.g., Google) or switch to a different version of Bing (e.g., a U. or European version), suggests that the impact may be slight if one assumes that users are making a conscious choice to restrict their search results with the help and guidance of Bing to filter out offensive material.
That is, although political filtering is widespread in the MENA region, social filtering, including keyword filtering, is not practiced by all countries in MENA.
ONI 2007-20-2009 testing and research found no evidence of social content filtering (e.g., sex, nudity, and homosexuality) at the national level in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Libya.10 On the other hand, Microsoft does not seem to apply IP-geolocation restrictions.
Examples of the Arabic keywords found filtered include Arabic terms for “sex,” “porn,” “intercourse,” “breast,” and “nude.” - Bing filters out Arabic keywords that could yield Web sites containing LGBT content.
Your country or region requires a strict Bing Safe Search setting, which filters out results that might return adult content.” - Bing does not offer users of the “Arabian countries” version the option to toggle Safe Search on/off.
We tested keywords that could yield politically sensitive content (e.g., “democracy”, “freedom”, “opposition”), content related to violence and terrorism (e.g., “torture”, terror”, “explosive”), Web sites related to minority and religious rights (e.g., “Shiite”, “Baha’i”, “Christian”, “Jews”), and content related to women’s rights (e.g., “gender”, “equality”). Microsoft’s explanation as to why some search keywords return few or no results is that “[s]ometimes websites are deliberately excluded from the results page to remove inappropriate content as determined by local practice, law, or regulation.”9 It is unclear, however, whether Bing’s keyword filtering in the Arab countries is an initiative from Microsoft, or whether any or all of the Arab states have asked Microsoft to comply with local censorship practices or laws.