Bing! So That's What A Swizzle Stick Is.

Microsoft’s new Bing search engine just can’t seem to stay out of the red light district, no matter how hard they try.

There’s no denying it is hands down the best porn search engine on the planet (although ChaCha is pretty good too). But Bing also had a snafu with Google ads that showed the search engine for “pornography” queries. Google took the blame for that one (see updates to that post), and at least it only showed up for people actually querying the adult term.

Now, a new controversy has popped up around a Microsoft ad unit that scrapes a page for content and then shows relevant Bing queries. The ads normally work fine. But last week Bing started showing an ad unit that contained sexually explicit terms, including at least one that I had never heard of before (the swizzle stick). Best of all, the ads were displayed on a WonderHowTo web page showing only Home & Garden content.

You can see the queries that were self-generated by Bing for the ad unit in the image. This isn’t just R-rated run of the mill porn stuff. This is stuff that’s still illegal in some states. Particularly that top query.

Microsoft is saying this is a bug, and they’ve taken down all of these ad units on all sites until they understand what happened. The unit is supposed to scrape only the page being viewed. In this case, WonderHowTo has sexually explicit content on other areas of the site, which may be triggering the ad content.

Said Microsoft’s Senior Director Online Audience Business Group Adam Sohn, who wasn’t too happy with the ad: “We are very cognizant of what we want the Bing brand to stand for, and this is not it.”

My response – “well, at least it’s educational.”