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Microsoft Start - Editorial Standards

Microsoft News 7/2/2019

About Microsoft Start

Microsoft Start publishes content from 1,200 premium publishers who represent 4,500 brands worldwide, to power, the Edge Start Page, the Microsoft Start App and more to 500 million monthly readers in 140 countries and 28 languages.

Our Beliefs

At Microsoft Start, we believe:

  • A free, well-funded press plays a critical role in society.
  • In delivering unparalleled breadth and depth of high-quality journalism.
  • That trustworthy and diverse perspectives matter.
  • In the power of combining human and machine curation.
  • User choice and personalization are essential to the experience.

Our Key Commitments

As we curate content across various canvasses and platforms, from the MSN Home Page to the Edge browser and mobile and social platforms, we are committing to the following:

1. Truth

Microsoft Start will ensure editorial content upholds the journalistic commitment to truth, accuracy, fairness and freedom from bias, offering users balanced content.

Microsoft Start information must be legal, honest and truthful. We must offer a safe experience for all customers. Microsoft Start must also be accurate, reliable, timely, authoritative and entertaining. It will strive for clarity and avoid distortion and ambiguity.

In a world where news is constantly breaking, there may be times when absolute truth is not immediately clear. When that happens, Microsoft Start will ensure it publishes only verifiable information it believes to be true and will make the source of the information clear.

2. Transparency

Consumers of Microsoft Start can expect transparency and openness in editorial and business practices, the best possible identification of information sources in stories and explicit identification of advertising-supported content. Microsoft Start is accountable and will always try to flag and correct factual mistakes quickly.

3. Integrity

All Microsoft Start staff will operate with professional publishing integrity, respecting users and offering fair coverage.

4. Independence

While Microsoft Start is owned by Microsoft, its portals, content and commercial policies will represent independent judgment. It will resist undue political or commercial pressures, internal or external, and offer a forum for free debate.

Microsoft Start's editorial voice will be independent from political parties, advertisers and corporate sponsorship, offering intellectual fairness in supporting the general public interest rather than particular support for any group or point of view.

5. Privacy

Microsoft Start will respect user privacy and personal data. Microsoft’s Privacy Policy:

6. Quality

Microsoft Start will strive to provide a quality experience in all programming. On matters of taste, we will avoid gratuitous offense to our readers. We will explore new ideas and be quick to embrace new technologies that help to raise our quality standards. We will encourage feedback and react to it quickly. We will place all new information in context to deepen understanding.

Core Programming Principles

We have a responsibility to ensure the content we are programming can be viewed across all our canvasses by users of all ages at any time of day. There may be local market variances about what content is deemed appropriate, but the general guidance is that the content we program is safe for consumption in a work environment. We also will endeavor to adhere to these principles as closely as possible, acknowledge when mistakes are made and collaborate with partners in a timely manner to rectify them.

In general, the content we publish will refrain from:

  • Vulgar language
  • Language or images meant to shock the audience
  • Discriminatory language
  • Inappropriate depictions of sexual activity
  • Nudity or eroticism
  • Gratuitous reference to or images of drug paraphernalia
  • Images depicting consumption of alcohol or smoking
  • Coverage of bestiality
  • Detailed descriptions and gratuitous images of murders and violent crimes, or the identity of crime victims unless the victims publicly identifies themselves
  • Excessive blood in images
  • Images of dead bodies or body bags
  • Religious representation that may cause offense
  • Images gratuitously highlighting deformity or “medical voyeurism”
  • Descriptions of suicide methods
  • Images that depict animals in distress

Programming Model

Our programming model is driven by the curation of content by hundreds of experienced editors around the world combined with machine learning to ensure that our audiences receive timely, comprehensive, informative and entertaining information. In addition to those editors programming timely news stories, we also use algorithms to monitor the content and personalize it based on user preferences, tastes and interests. Readers are also able to explicitly personalize their news feeds by choosing topics they wish to follow

To learn more, see the Microsoft Privacy Statement:

Partner Content

Our content is provided by our unique partnerships with many of the most respected media outlets in the world. We actively look for partners and content that represent all points of view, to keep our readers informed.

In addition, we will:

  • Adhere to a high-quality bar when selecting content – no matter who the partner - particularly with controversial or polarizing subjects such as politics, religion and sexuality.
  • Only partner with reputable content brands that adhere to strict editorial guidelines.
  • Use only material in which it is clear the content providers have used fair and lawful reporting methods to obtain news, photographs, video and documents.
  • Ensure any content that cites a particular study includes the study name and publish date and/or a link to the original study. In rare cases, we may publish a story that includes reference to a study without attribution if the content comes from a well-known and well-respected publication.
  • Take care when publishing content where a partner has sourced information from social media. If a partner includes this type of info, they must include a disclaimer that information has not been verified to be true.

Labeling Content

Editorial content can take many forms, including news, commentary, reviews, expert analysis, expert blogs, columns and gossip. We will make every effort to distinguish between articles delivering opinion and those that are reporting news by carrying a disclaimer on opinion pieces (except where it is clear from the title that it is an opinion piece).

Microsoft Start strives to define clearly what constitutes advertising and what constitutes editorial and avoid hybrids that blur the lines between the two. All advertising will be clearly labeled. Advertising or other content that has been commissioned by or for clients will be clearly identified and kept independent of our editorial content.

Date Stamps

All content will have a date/time stamp reflecting the most recent publish date by Microsoft Start. If content has been revised or updated, the date/time stamp will reflect the most updated version of the content. Some content is considered evergreen and has more timeless information and tips that are useful across a span of time. If an evergreen piece is published on our sites multiple times, the date/time stamp will reflect the current date published and carry a note with the original publish date.


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We want to honor Microsoft’s value of diversity and inclusion and eliminate unconscious bias in Microsoft Start programming. We aim for news programming that incorporates a holistic view of voices and opinions that reflect our diverse world.

Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. Diversity entails the appreciation of differences in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, socio-economic background and national origin. To that end, we commit to supporting diversity, inclusion and belonging by publishing content that:

  • Avoids irrelevant references to someone’s gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, appearance, age or sexual orientation.
  • Is neutral and natural and takes into account how the subject of the story wants to be referred.
  • Avoids coded language, “tokenism” or “labeling” that promote stereotypes.
  • Uses imagery that represents diverse backgrounds and avoids stereotypes.

Editorial Staff Conduct

As Microsoft Start staff, we hold ourselves accountable to the highest level of professional standards. We work to preserve independence from the interests of government, political parties, religious or commercial interests or advertiser influence over news coverage.

Microsoft Start staff does not accept gifts or bribery for (or to create the appearance of) favoritism, nor will Microsoft Start staff use our positions to obtain private benefit for ourselves our others.

In an effort to be open and transparent, Microsoft Start staff will clearly identify ourselves when engaging with readers online, clearly identify within content if that content has been derived from a paid-for trip or event and advise internal staff of real or perceived conflicts of interest (e.g., members of our immediate family have a financial interest in any companies or industries mentioned in content we publish).

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