Microsoft Bing not only makes it easy for people to search for child pornography, it also suggests related terms and keywords to look for more of such imagery, TechCrunch claims.
Acting on an anonymous tip, the website enlisted the help of AntiToxin, an online safety startup, to investigate the matter.
During the research from Dec 30, 2018 to Jan 7, AntiToxin found that common search terms for child pornography displayed child exploitation imagery.
Not only that – for some words, Bing offered additional search terms, all of which resulted in extensive child pornography images when clicked on.
TechCrunch even includes a warning it its article: “Do not search for the terms discussed in this article on Bing or elsewhere as you could be committing a crime. AntiToxin is closely supervised by legal counsel and properly hand its findings to law enforcement.”
When TechCrunch approached Microsoft with the finding, the company’s chief vice-president of Bing and AI products Jordi Ribas reportedly said, “Clearly these results were unacceptable under our standards and policies and we appreciate TechCrunch making us aware.
“We acted immediately to remove them, but we also want to prevent any other similar violations in the future. We’re focused on learning from this so we can make any other improvements needed.”
The article adds that Microsoft has assigned an engineering team to fix the issues, and is now working on blocking similar queries as well as its auto-complete suggestions and related images.
It will also reportedly change its Bing flagging options to include reporting on “child sexual abuse”.
AntiToxin, however, claimed that while some search terms from its report were properly banned, others still resulted in showing child pornography on the search engine despite the supposed clean-up.
A Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying: “We index everything, as does Google, and we do the best job we can of screening it. We use a combination of PhotoDNA and human moderation but that doesn’t get us to perfect every time. We’re committed to getting better all the time.”