Microsoft has announced that it is banning ALL third-party tech and computer support adverts on its Bing search engine because ‘most of them are scams’.
Microsoft has revised its global user safety policy, stating: “User Safety is a core priority at Microsoft, which is why we are announcing a revision to our Bing Ads policy on the promotion of third party products and services: Bing Ads disallows the promotion of third party online technical support services to consumers because of serious quality issues that can impact end user safety.
"This policy change reflects Microsoft’s commitment to lead the industry in providing a safer experience for all of our end users, including populations most vulnerable to online scams and other fraud activities.”
Microsoft asked Bing users to report ads that they felt most violated Bing’s advertising policies.
Earlier this month, Bing reported that it had blocked more than 15 million ads, as well as 25,000 sites for third-party tech support scams.
The adverts are often written to look like they are from well-known tech companies so they can trick users into using them.
A typical scam involves convincing a caller that the firm is a well-know company, then allowing them remote access to their computer. They will then convince the user their machine is infected, and in some cases, actually infect the device themselves. The next step is then to scare the caller into playing extortionate fees to fix the ‘problem’.
While it is certainly true there are a lot of scammers out there, this move will not only block tricksters offering bogus tech support, but also legitimate third party support firms.
It is completely understandable that Microsoft would want to offer a better user experience on Bing by blocking as many phony adverts as possible. And any help towards stopping scammers who prey on those not as technically knowledgeable as others is always a positive. But is it fair to have a blanket ban on tech support ads, regardless of whether some are from genuine tech support firms?
In an industry like ours, where small companies are trying to do their best to stand out against the biggest names in tech, sweeping bans across major search engines will not help them. But only time will tell how much genuine businesses are affecting by this.
Microsoft’s decision follows the news that Google is taking further measures to protect users from bogus adverts. As of July 13th, the firm will no longer accept ads from payday loan companies. Facebook is also prohibiting payday loan advertisements.
Are you a genuine third party tech support firm? If so, tell us what you think about the ad block in the comment section below or email Online Editor Laura Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.