Home Bing’s Bias: Tinfoil Hats Don’t Seem Necessary Yet

Bing’s Bias: Tinfoil Hats Don’t Seem Necessary Yet

PCWorld and CIO.com ran a story by Shane O’Neill today alleging that Microsoft’s search engine Bing returns results for certain queries that are contrary to the searcher’s intent and biased in favor of Microsoft. “Why is Windows so expensive?” and “Is Microsoft evil?” are the two examples O’Neill says bring back anti-Apple and anti-Google search results.

The only problem is, that doesn’t seem true. At least not anymore in our experience. While some Microsoft conspiracy theories may have some merit (European courts say so), this one either doesn’t or has already been vanquished by a couple of articles on the web.

O’Neill points to the first result in a search on Bing for “Why is Windows so expensive?” and alleges it’s biased in favor of Microsoft. It’s a Yahoo Answers thread titled “Why Are Macs so expensive?” That’s funny, but if you read the thread it was written by someone who says they hate Microsoft. The answer to the question that was selected as the best is a really good explanation of why Macs are expensive – and worth it. That doesn’t seem like a pro-Microsoft search result.

The second example cited is the search query “is Microsoft evil?” O’Neill saw a link to an article about Google being evil as his first search result, but we don’t. The first result we see is to a year-old blog post that does argue in favor of Microsoft in the monopoly debate, but the second result is a link to MicrosoftIsEvil.com. Heck, the blurb just above the fold reads “Redmond, WA – Microsoft purchased evil from Satan for $2.7 billion after many months of tough negotiations.” Those don’t seem like pro-Microsoft search results to us.

Start typing “is microsoft…” into Bing and the only suggested search is “is Microsoft a monopoly?” The first result for that search is a pretty unbiased look at the case, and the second is a link to the Wikipedia article about United States vs. Microsoft.

That all sounds pretty fair to us. It doesn’t make sense that someone at Bing would take the time and risk messing with search results like that. We’ll have to put this conspiracy theory back on the shelf.

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