Microsoft’s new Bing search engine has its own unique approach to video search which has engendered both praise and pans. Perhaps the most remarked upon feature is the mouse hover over a thumbnail of a video and Bing will play 30 seconds of the clip with sound. It has already been noted that this feature allows kids to view porn videos, and has caused controversy among organizations dedicated to protecting kids online.

Bing displays the source of the video file and its length under the thumbnail. The search engine does not present video search results as a single scrollable page, but requires you to click successive pages.

The sources Microsoft is pulling results from appear to include:

  • MSN
  • AOL
  • MTV
  • Hulu
  • ESPN
  • YouTube
  • MySpace
  • DailyMotion
  • MetaCafe

Trial searches showed some degree of duplication of videos in the results, so the technology may still need a little tweaking.

The fact that the “hover” feature can present porn video to kids has raised the ire of several commentators, most notably CNET columnist Larry Magid. He wrote, “…when I searched for a word that was sure to bring up porn, I was first warned that it ‘may return explicit adult content’ and told that ‘to view these videos, turn off safe search.’ One click later, safe search was off and I was looking a page of naughty thumbnails. And, as advertised, hovering the mouse over a thumbnail started the video and audio. Even when playing in a small thumbnail, it was unmistakably hard core porn.” Magid went on to warn parents that ther only option regarding their kids and porn is to “watch them, educate them or filter them.”

Magid admitted other search engines enable kids to find porn but complained that Bing made it “too easy. He noted that filtering programs built into Vista and Mac OS can block porn sites but it is uncleart how they worked with Bing.

At least one commercial filtering software claimed to block Bing “hover” porn. According to its company blog, Safe Eyes filtering software “blocks all pornographic content on Bing and Google searches out of the box.”

Microsoft responded to the controversy by making changes in Bing’s video search functionality that made it easier for parents to monitor or block what thier kids are viewing on Bing. The first was that “explicit images and video content will now be coming from a separate single domain, explicit.bing.net. This is invisible to the end customer, but allows for filtering of that content by domain, which makes it much easier for customers at all levels to block this content regardless of what the SafeSearch settings might be.” This change enables parents to use filters built into 3rd party software and into Mac OS and Vista.

The second change was that Microsoft will return the “source URL” of videos and images so that a filter that blocks a soecific site will also block images or videos from that site. Magid tested Bing video search with the new changes and expressed satisfaction that the changes worked as intended and made Bing safer for kids. But he cautioned that parents need to remain vigilant about thier children’s internet surfing.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Video Search

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About The Author: is the Chief Search Officer at Mediasmith in San Francisco, and co-author of Digital Engagement, published by The American Management Association. Bob coined the terms "Audience Development" for building traffic to websites and "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO).

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    The new Bing video feature is very cool, but they should add another layer of security to avoid underage views to access adult websites…but I agree parents need to take the lead…

  • http://www.rockbottomgolf.com jwmitche

    This is a great innovation by Microsoft, one of what will have to be many more to continue building market share against Google.

    As for the kids accessing porn aspect, are people really getting bent out of shape about this? How much different is a hover compared to a click? The stuff is out there and it’s a search engine’s job to return relevant search results. So when a CNET writer “searched for a word that was sure to bring up porn” Bing did it’s job and returned porn.

    Just like in so many other areas, it’s up to the parents to be responsible for their children.

 

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