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Yahoo's Chinese Search Engine Found To Be Biggest Censor

The Chinese version of Yahoo Inc.'s search engine was the worst offender in censorship tests that included rivals Google Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and local competitor Baidu, an international free press advocacy group said.

Yahoo.cn was also found to censor search results as strictly as Baidu.cn, while Google.cn and beta version of MSN.cn let through more information from sources not authorized by Chinese officials, Reporters Without Borders said.

The Paris-based group said in a statement that it was "particularly shocked" by the scale of censorship on Yahoo.cn. Search results on key words deemed "subversive" by Chinese authorities returned results that were 97 percent pro-Beijing, more than its Chinese rival Baidu.

Requesting information on certain terms, such as the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre or "Tibet independence," would cause the Yahoo.cn search tool to return an error message, the advocacy group said. As a result, the search engine would not respond to any query for about an hour. This method is not used by any other foreign search tools, but Baidu uses a similar technique.

Yahoo officials in the United States were not immediately available for comment.

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