Microsoft is actively aligning its practices with the European Union's Digital Services Act (DSA), a regulation that seeks to bolster online user protection and enhance transparency for technology platforms. As part of this alignment, Microsoft is set to offer users more insights into targeted advertisements, a step that appears to be in line with the DSA's mandate for platforms to shed more light on their ad practices.
Starting from October, Microsoft will publish a report every six months detailing its efforts to comply with the DSA. These reports, accessible via the Microsoft Reports Hub, will also include data on the average monthly active users of Bing within the European Union.
Understanding the Digital Services Act
The DSA, an update to the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000, addresses issues related to illegal content, transparent advertising, and misinformation. One of its notable mandates is that platforms should offer users an option to view a feed that isn't personalized or based on user profiling. In this context, Microsoft's LinkedIn has already incorporated this feature into both its desktop and mobile versions.
Microsoft has unveiled a new Digital Safety website to educate users about its online safety protocols and provide avenues for reporting concerns across its digital services. Enhancements to Bing's “Report a Concern” feature now make it simpler for users to report instances of minors' personal information being exposed. Additionally, there's a new category for flagging issues in generative AI features and more explicit policies addressing nonconsensual intimate imagery and synthetic “deepfake” images.
Enhancing Ad Transparency on Bing
To further its commitment to transparency, Microsoft has rolled out the Microsoft Ad Library. This initiative is designed to give consumers a clearer view of the ads displayed on the Bing platform. Moreover, Microsoft is in the process of crafting more comprehensive transparency documentation that will elucidate Bing's search methodologies, ranking criteria, moderation guidelines, and user control mechanisms.
The DSA's regulations are applicable to “very large” social media platforms and websites. This includes Microsoft-owned entities like Bing and LinkedIn. Other major tech giants, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, also fall under the purview of these regulations.