Bing sting: Is Microsoft's search engine copying Google?

Search leader says it caught Bing borrowing results; see ITworld's conclusive evidence below

Google thinks rival search engine Bing is copying Google's search results, and even launched a covert operation to catch the Microsoft-owned service red-handed, according to search engine guru Danny Sullivan. (Also see: Did Facebook and Microsoft know about sleazy Bing affiliate?) Writing in his search engine land blog on Tuesday, Sullivan said: Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this. As a result of the apparent monitoring, Bing’s relevancy is potentially improving (or getting worse) on the back of Google’s own work. Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning over during an exam and copying off of Google’s test. Sullivan said he received an email from Bing director Stefan Weitz that "seems to confirm the allegation." I don't draw quite the same conclusion, but Weitz certainly issues no flat denial, nor does he engage in faux outrage over Google's claim. If you're interested, Sullivan's post goes into a lot of detail regarding how Google became suspicious about Bing's searches last spring, became more suspicious in October, and finally set up a sting operation in December. (Update: Bing fires back at Google.) Meanwhile, I decided to blow the lid off the story with my own investigation. I typed in the word "itworld" into Bing and got the results below. Prepare to be shocked...

Crudely photo-shopped by Chris Nerney

How sad, Bing. How sad.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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