PC Culture

Microsoft Search Engine Bing Temporarily Censors Tiananmen Square ‘Tank Man’ Photo

A man stands in front of a column of tanks on the the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing, China, June 1989. (Stringer/Reuters)

Microsoft’s search engine Bing temporarily blocked searches for the famous image of a man standing in front of a column of tanks at Tiananmen Square in 1989, in a move the company said was made in error.

The action came on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, during which Chinese soldiers gunned down students and other pro-democracy protesters. Bing users searching for “tank man,” the image of a protester standing in front of a line of tanks, reported that the search turned up zero results in Bing’s images and videos tabs, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“This is due to an accidental human error and we are actively working to resolve this,” Microsoft said in a statement on Friday.

Bing represents roughly 2 percent of the search engine market worldwide, the second-largest share of any search engine, according to Statcounter. The largest market share is occupied by Google, which occupies about 92 percent of the market.

Images of and references to the Tiananmen Square massacre are routinely censored on Chinese media. Bing and other companies such as LinkedIn provide censored versions of their products inside China, and companies have faced scrutiny from the U.S. for appearing to abide by government restrictions.

Public memorials of anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre were suppressed in the territory of Hong Kong this year, after mainland China heavily eroded the Special Administrative Region’s autonomy the via a draconian national-security law last year.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.


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