- Microsoft search engine Bing is censoring image searches around the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
- Images of the infamous “tank man” and autocomplete suggestions weren’t being shown to users.
- Microsoft claimed it was a “human error,” but image searches still appeared to be missing results hours later.
- Sign up for the 10 Things in Tech daily newsletter.
Microsoft-owned search engine Bing was not displaying any image results to US users who searched for the term “tank man” on Friday, and it appeared to be down-ranking some image searches for other terms related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
“This is due to an accidental human error and we are actively working to resolve this,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Insider.
But hours later, the search engine still appeared to be filtering out images of China’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests, as well as hiding autocomplete suggestions referencing the event.
Vice earlier reported that users in France, Switzerland, and the UK also saw no results when searching Bing for images of “tank man.”
Insider was able to confirm the lack of image results for US users, and also found significant discrepancies between the image results for “Tiananmen Square tank man” shown by Bing versus Google.
Microsoft’s apparent censorship came on the anniversary of the student-led protests, in which the Chinese military killed at least hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989. The phrase “tank man” refers to an infamous photo of a single protestor obstructing the path of Chinese tanks.
Beijing has recently cracked down on vigils and protests within China and Hong Kong seeking to mark the Tiananmen Square protests.