I thought we'd gone beyond this, but apparently not. When Bing first came out I did one of my usual searches - martin luther king - and I was curious about a little footnote at the bottom of the serps which simply said 'Some results have been removed'. I asked my Microsoft contacts, who all professed to have no knowledge of why this had happened, or which results had been removed. Microsoft do censor results in India - one of my favourite searches is a search for 'adult content' which results in the message "Your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content." I'm not particularly happy with this, but it's not my country, there's nothing I can do about it, and at least I'm getting some indication as to what is being censored and why. So (back to the plot) I asked why material was being censored in the UK and why. No answer. Nada. Zip. Nothing.
A while later I ran the search again (interestingly Bing ranks a racist website as the #1 result, which is so wholly inappropriate it's beyond belief, but there you go) and the little message had gone, and the racist website was in the results. Fast forward to now - I was doing a search for 'noto55' which is a political term currently trending on Twitter. Lo and behold - the little footnote is back:
There's no real information on what results have been removed, why they've been removed, who chose to remove them - nothing. This is where things get interesting, because I got the same result on the American version, the Australian, Canadian, Dutch and New Zealand versions - 5 hits. However, with the Italian version, there were 203 hits. In theory, although in practice several of the pages that I looked at didn't have noto55, but variants such as noto, 55 and so on.
Now - why are there different results for Italy? Nothing appears to be particularly interesting in the Italian results - I wasn't suddenly faced by dubious images, so it's all a bit of a puzzle. And this leads me back to my original questions:
WHY is Microsoft censoring results?
WHAT are they censoring?
WHO wants results censored
WHY won't Microsoft tell us about this in any more detail other than a bland and totally inappropriate error type message?