×

Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine Back Online in China

Service of Microsoft’s Bing search engine appears to have been restored in mainland China on Friday after a blackout that prompted users to fear it had been blocked by Chinese censors.

“We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored,” a Microsoft spokesman told Variety, without further elaboration. Chinese users had begun reporting Wednesday that they were unable to access the site.

The brief hiatus in service was due to an accidental technical error, not censorship, Bloomberg News cited two anonymous sources as saying. Earlier, the Financial Times cited two anonymous sources as saying the block had been government-directed.

China operates one of the world’s most restrictive censorship regimes, and Bing is only allowed to operate in the country because it agrees to delete content deemed offensive or threatening to the ruling Communist Party. Google, on the other hand, halted search services in mainland China in 2010 over concerns of censorship and hacking.

The temporary Bing blackout remains a warning sign for foreign tech firms seeking to operate in China, where authorities can decide to ban or block sites and services without explanation.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Microsoft president Brad Smith said that such problems occur regularly for the company and noted that, in 2017, Microsoft’s Skype also temporarily disappeared from Chinese app stores.

“It’s not the first time that we’ve encountered issues like this for being in China. These do arise periodically,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “We do adhere to the global network initiative set of principles when it comes to search services in China. And that does mean that there are days when there are either difficult negotiations or even disagreements, but we’re not aware of any ongoing negotiation or disagreement.”

The Bing block came as Chinese leaders gathered at Davos to promote an image of China as pro-trade and open for business, in contrast to the U.S.’s increasingly protectionist stance under the Trump administration.

China has increased government oversight of the Internet to unprecedented levels in the past year. Authorities deleted about 6 million online posts and 26,000 “illegal websites” just in 2018, the official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month.

More Digital

  • Terminator: Dark Fate

    Comic-Con: ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Cast Will Hit Reddit Live-Streamed AMA (EXCLUSIVE)

    Arnold is back — and he and other cast members of “Terminator: Dark Fate” are joining a first-of-its-kind live-streaming Reddit AMA on Thursday from Comic-Con International in San Diego. For the new installment in the “Terminator” franchise, Paramount Pictures is hosting a traditional Comic-Con panel Thursday 11 a.m.-12 noon in Hall H. Then, a few [...]

  • Time Immersive app

    Time Immersive App Launches With Moon Landing AR Experience

    Time launched a new mobile app for immersive journalism Thursday, complete with an augmented reality experience that visualizes the moon landing in a user’s living room. “Landing on the Moon” has been produced with help from Industrial Light & Magic chief creative officer John Knoll, who has been researching the Apollo 11 mission for close [...]

  • Illustration of the video streaming company

    Netflix Insists It Won't Move Into Selling Advertising

    Netflix wants you to know: It doesn’t have any plans now or in the future to start running commercials on its streaming service. Company execs have have regularly explained that being ad-free is a core part of Netflix’s attractiveness to consumers, and the strategy has been a standard part of its “Long-Term View” mission statement [...]

  • MODEL RELEASED Hand holding iPhone with

    Netflix to Launch Lower-Priced Mobile-Only Plan in India

    Following several months of testing, Netflix is getting ready to officially launch a mobile-only plan in India. Priced significantly below its regular subscription plans, the new plan is meant to help the company better compete with local players like Hotstar. Netflix announced the step in its Q2 2019 earnings letter to investors Wednesday, writing: “We [...]

  • Always Be My Maybe

    'The Perfect Date,' 'Always Be My Maybe' Draw Big Crowds on Netflix

    Rom-coms are working for Netflix: “The Perfect Date,” a romantic comedy starring Noah Centineo from the company’s hit movie “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” has been viewed by 48 million subscriber households in its first four weeks on the service, Netflix revealed Wednesday. And “Always Be My Maybe,” starring Ali Wong and Randall [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content