Bing Content Filtering

Hopefully, by now you have checked out Microsoft’s new web search/decision engine,  In short, Bing is a decision engine that goes beyond what people have come to think of as search — it will help people use the Web to accomplish more complicated decision-based tasks, rather than simply navigating the Web.  If you’d like more information on what can be done with Bing, you can view the Product Tour Video.

Since the release early this week, there has been some news about perceived content filtering problems with Bing and I’d like to provide you some information to cut through all the hyperbole and get to the facts.   The fact is, Bing uses the same query string parameter content filter override that all major search providers’ use and this functionality will ensure that the content filtering settings you select for Bing are always enforced.  Microsoft recently did a blog post on this and related topics.

Here is some more information that should help to clear up any misperceptions about the ability to block objectionable content on Bing.

Most content filtering software works by appending a query string parameter to the outbound request to enforce content control.  This method works with all major search engines, including Bing, however this capability in Bing is unpublicized and thus not well known and sometimes unimplemented by content control vendors.  As a result, content control vendors often recommend blocking all access to  Microsoft is conducting outreach to the content control vendors to inform them of our safe search enforcement capabilities.

How does safe search work for Bing?

1. The default setting is set to “Moderate” which automatically blocks access to all adult image and video content. Users can change their setting to “Strict” if they choose. Bing’s “Strict” safe search setting is the most rigorous of the major search engines.

2. The setting is maintained in a client side cookie.  A user must proactively change their safe search settings from STRICT or MODERATE to OFF in order to access adult content.

3. Admins can always override the users client side setting by appending the parameter “&adlt=strict” to all queries to the domain.  This will set the safe search setting to “Strict” and block all adult content, including text results. 

Some examples (so everyone doesn’t have to search for adult content to prove it)

1. If in Bing you set safe search to OFF and search for “<insert adult search term>” the result is…unfiltered content relevant to the search terms.

2. If in Bing you set safe search to STRICT and search for “<insert adult search term>” the result is, no results.  There is an option for the user to change their safe search setting, but this can be override by the query string parameter as shown in scenario #3.


3. If in Bing you set safe search to OFF and search for “<insert adult search term>”, with the added query string parameter”&adlt=strict” you get no results, the same as scenario #1.


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