Bing search engine back online in China: Microsoft

The temporary shutdown of Bing had raised concerns that Microsoft's search engine was the latest victim of online censorship in China, which authorities have ramped up in recent years.
The temporary shutdown of Bing had raised concerns that Microsoft's search engine was the latest victim of online censorship in China, which authorities have ramped up in recent years. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • Microsoft's search engine Bing resumed service to Chinese users yesterday after a disruption raised fears among social media users that it was the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors.

Attempts to access Bing had resulted in an error message for users starting late on Wednesday as the most prominent foreign search engine available in China experienced a temporary blackout.

Microsoft's search engine was blocked due to "an accidental technical error", according to Bloomberg, citing two anonymous sources - rather than a deliberate attempt to restrict Bing, which already complies with local censorship rules.

On Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media site, people rejoiced over the return of Microsoft's search engine. "Bing has returned," wrote one user, adding three sobbing emojis. "I am moved!"

The temporary shutdown of Bing had raised concerns that Microsoft's search engine was the latest victim of online censorship in China, which authorities have ramped up in recent years.

China's communist government operates an online censorship apparatus known as the "Great Firewall", which blocks a slew of websites, including Facebook, Twitter and several foreign media outlets.

Weibo users complained about the lack of access starting late on Wednesday, with some speculating that Bing too had been "walled off".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2019, with the headline 'Bing search engine back online in China: Microsoft'. Print Edition | Subscribe