BING and Yahoo! are suggesting racist and disgusting web content to people using their search engines, with some suggestions being for illegal porn.
The suggestions largely come from the auto-complete feature of both search engines, which direct users to offensive web pages and also images.
Bing’s tendency to auto-complete inappropriate web searches was first flagged up by the How-To Geek website.
It found that when users run image searches using such terms as “Jews,” “Muslims are,” and “Black people are,” the search engine returns racist results.
These include nasty images and also suggestions for ‘related’ searches, such as “Muslims are evil” and “Muslims are stupid.”
And since Bing powers the Yahoo! search engine, the Verge website discovered that Yahoo was also producing similar results in its web and image searches.
Worse still, Bing’s offensive suggestions don’t stop at racist content and imagery.
How-To Geek found that the Microsoft-owned search engine also prods users towards child porn and images of bestiality.
Typing in the misspelled “gril,” Bing’s image search suggested searching for “Cute Young Girl 16.”
Clicking on this suggestion then led users to pornographic images of young models, who may or may not have been underage.
It also led them to such related suggestions as “Cute Girls Young 13” and “Cute Young Girl 10.”
On top of this, typing in words like “Donkey” provided users with suggestions for pornography involving animals, such as “Donkey Show Graphic.”
While these discoveries are quite shocking, it would appear that Microsoft has already taken steps to reduce and remove Bing’s offensive auto-suggestions.
For example, the Sun wasn’t able to replicate the searches involving “gril” or “Donkey.”
Likewise, we weren’t able replicate the image search for “Jews,” since the related searches we were shown weren’t offensive.
However, normal searches for web pages do still produce some racist and offensive auto-complete suggestions.
Even though Bing no longer provides auto-suggestions if the user types “Jews are” into its search bar, it currently does provide them if he or she types “Jews ar.”
And as of writing, if users type “Muslims [or Jews or black people] ar” into Yahoo’s search engine, they’ll also see a variety of racist auto-completed suggestions.
By contrast, Google currently doesn’t suffer from these specific problems, although its past history with unfortunate search suggestions reveals that they’re bound to pop up every now and again.
In 2016, it was noticed that if users typed “are Jews” into Google’s search engine, it would provide the auto-suggestion, “are Jews evil.”
This February, Wired magazine also discovered that users who typed “Hitler is” or “climate change is” into Google would see the suggestions, “Hitler is my hero” and “climate change is a hoax.”
And such questionable results are likely to continue turning up in the future, since auto-complete works by suggesting search terms that other people are currently using.
Update 11/10/2018 (15.36): A Microsoft spokesperson replied to the Sun with a comment. “We take matters of offensive content very seriously and continue to enhance our systems to identify and prevent such content from appearing as a suggested search. As soon as we become aware of an issue, we take action to address it.”
What’s your go-to search engine? Let us know in the comments.