MrConsumer searches through thousands of news stories each week to find the two or three dozen best ones to feature in Consumer World. To do this, he uses targeted searches of Google news and Bing news everyday. Unlike the regular searches of Google and Bing, the news section only is supposed to list news stories from a core list of news and information sites.
Of late, however, Bing’s news search results have surprisingly been infected with listings for websites pitching fake news about, or the outright sale of illegal or counterfeit prescription drugs and other questionable potions or pills.
In a search for the keywords “consumer” or “scam” recently, Bing news presented about 20 results, half of which were not legitimate news stories (which we highlighted in green).
*MOUSE PRINT: (Use scrollbar below on the right to view.)
Note: Bing news results do NOT include paid advertisements or “sponsored results” as you might find elsewhere. The “stories” with green borders somehow tricked Bing’s algorithm into thinking these were legitimate news stories from legitimate news websites.
We alerted Microsoft’s technical support folks at Bing of the problem, including providing a screen capture. What ensued was an insane and inane series of nearly a dozen emails over a two week period. First they claimed they could not duplicate the problem. Then they asked for the search terms used (already provided) and a screen capture of the bad results (already provided). Then they wanted screen captures of each website that was listed improperly. (Do you own f*ing site screen captures I muttered to myself.) Then they wanted a list of all offending URLs. Oh, yes, I will find all the bad websites online that could come up in searches and send them to Microsoft. Nonetheless, we provided a list of about three dozen websites that kept offending. Their official response: they removed ONE URL.
I repeatedly suggested that something was wrong with their algorithm that was failing to filter out obvious scam sites that had nothing to do with legitimate news stories.
In desperation, we finally wrote to Microsoft’s PR firm, asking why Bing’s technical folks were seemingly doing little to weed out these fraudulent sites despite repeated complaints, and what the company was going to do to protect readers. Their response — silence. Nothing. Zilch.
In the past week, however, most of the bad listings have mysteriously been removed, but the problem may not be fully resolved yet.