Research: child porn can still be found via Microsoft Bing

It appears to be possible to find child pornography with Microsoft’s search engine Bing. The New York Times researched this and was able to find dozens of images. Microsoft states that there was an error in the search algorithms.

In order to be able to research child pornography, The New York Times developed a program that can automatically search for images, without showing them on the screen. In order to detect child pornography, dozens of searches related to the subject were used, after which the image URLs that Bing returned were collected. This allowed the American newspaper to collect links to images without having to load the images into the browser itself.

After detecting the image URLs, they were forwarded to PhotoDNA, the Microsoft-developed program that can filter content based on image recognition. In many cases, a match was noted, which means that it concerned well-known child pornography images. Because Yahoo and DuckDuckGo use Bing’s search engine, the images were also findable at these companies.

After the discovery, the URLs were forwarded to, among others, the Canadian Center for Child Protection, which is involved in detecting and combating child pornography. The organization indicated that the images found indeed contain child pornography. The New York Times couldn’t find anything on Google’s search engine, but according to the Canadian Center for Child Protection, child pornography is sometimes found there too. In some cases, Google initially refused to remove the images.

In a response, Microsoft told The New York Times that child pornography could be found through the search engine due to a flaw in the algorithms. Microsoft says that this has since been fixed, so the images should no longer be discoverable.