Microsoft Denies Purchase of Keyword ‘Pornography’

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft said they did not buy the keyword “pornography” to advertise its search engine Bing.

Enterprising web researchers noticed this week that a simple search for “pornography” on Google activates a contextual ad for Microsoft’s competing search engine, Bing.

Such ads don’t really appear unless someone buys them specifically, which sparked speculation that Microsoft — which had already established porn-friendly bona-fides with its new search engine — was cashing in on its connection to adult.

Nonsense, said Microsoft.

“Microsoft has not purchased the keyword ‘pornography,’ and this term has never been in our AdWords account,” a representative said. “It is our policy on the Bing marketing team that we do not have any adult content as part of any of our keyword buys or other marketing campaigns. The keyword that seems to be triggering these results is ‘free videos.’ We are following up with Google to understand why this ad is showing up in these types of queries.”

A search for “free videos” on Google returns many adult results, though none of them for Bing. The search term “pornography” no longer returns a result for Bing.

Despite Microsoft’s denial, Bing has proven itself to be one of the best adult search engines on the planet.

“In private conversations Microsoft employees always said that the porn search feature was an unintended byproduct of good video search,” said leading tech analyst Michael Arrington, later adding, “There’s nothing wrong with being a good porn search engine, in our opinion. And why not go ahead and advertise it to the world.”

Bing received a lot of good reviews upon its release, including praise for its video search, which presents results in a convenient grid of thumbnails. Mousing over any of the thumbnails shows users a brief video preview.

Microsoft also offers a porn-specific version of Bing at the subdomain Explicit.bing.net. Channeling all adult content through this domain lets system admins filter out adult search results at the server level.

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