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Mobile // Mobile Applications

Bing Adds Porn Domain

Microsoft hopes the move will make it easier to block adult images and videos.

Microsoft has created a separate domain within its Bing search engine site that will be reserved exclusively for serving up pornographic images and videos. The domain, explicit.bing.net, will carry searchable content from adult magazine and video providers.

The move is not an attempt to make Bing racier. In fact, according to Microsoft, it's designed to make it easier for IT managers and others to filter inappropriate content. "Potentially explicit images and video content will now be coming from a separate, single domain," said Bing general manager Mike Nichols, in a Friday blog post.

"This is invisible to the end customer, but allows for filtering of that content by domain name which makes it much easier for customers at all levels to block this content regardless of what the SafeSearch settings might be," said Nichols.

SafeSearch is a tool that can be configured to block potentially offensive material. But it's controlled by the end-user and thus can be easily turned off. Because it routes explicit images through a separate domain that can be blocked at the server level, Microsoft's new approach should make it easier for tech managers to ensure that pornographic images are not finding their way onto workplace computers via Bing.

Microsoft's Bing reconfiguration comes in response to the discovery that the search engine's Smart Motion Preview feature allows Bing to be used as a virtual porn theater. Unlike other search engines, which simply redirect users to the source of a video, Smart Motion lets users view snippets of content—adult or otherwise—simply by mousing over search results.

The discovery prompted criticisms and China and certain Muslim countries have blocked the feature.

"Microsoft is never done when it comes to providing tools to help customers, whether they are large enterprises, local school districts or parents to make sure they can provide a safe searching experience when using Bing," Nichols wrote.

Microsoft formally launched Bing earlier this month as part of a broader effort to beef up its presence in the search market. It committed more than $1.5 billion to acquiring search, or search-driven businesses—including a $1.3 billion buyout of enterprise specialists Fast Search & Transfer—through the first nine months of 2008.

The company is hoping to close the gap with Google in search market share. Google presently controls about 64% of the U.S. search market, while Microsoft owns just 8% of the market, according to researchers at comScore. Yahoo, the number two player, holds 21% of the search market.

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