Section 1: Introduction
Microsoft Start provides access to content across multiple services and devices from thousands of premium publishers and creators from all over the world. We aim to provide a trusted, safe, and highly engaging experience suitable for users of any age. We welcome a broad spectrum of thoughtful and engaging viewpoints. Still, we need to ensure that the content we present meets our standards.
We judge content based on criteria that include transparency and adherence to media industry best practices and our publishing guidelines. We do not address or judge political stance or decide what is true.
Below you will find Microsoft Start’s standards for all content on our site. Microsoft Start uses both automation and humans to review content. Content submitted for publication that does not meet these standards will be taken down and removed from our platforms.
Section 2: Before You Get Started
To be considered for inclusion in the Microsoft Start experience, you should first be familiar with and adhere to the core principles which guide our content experiences.
All content published on MSN must adhere to the Microsoft guidelines and policies. The auto-publishing feature allows content to be ingested and published automatically if it complies with Microsoft News content publishing rules. For serious guideline violations, excessive violations, technical issues such as incomplete content, or other problems with a feed that could lead to escalations, the auto-publishing feature can be disabled meaning all content will no longer be published automatically in a particular feed. In addition, repeat infringement of copyrights by your content will result in termination of your license agreement. Please review the Auto-Publishing Requirements and the Publishing Content Guidelines for further information on prohibited content that could lead to disabling auto-publishing or control-listing a feed. If a feed has been control-listed and an underlying issue is addressed, the feed and content can be reviewed to determine if auto-publishing can be enabled again by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Section 3: Privacy
Section 4: Overview of Prohibited Content
Partners must refrain from posting the following prohibited content. More information is available in Prohibited Content.
- Sexually explicit content
- Gratuitous images and/or descriptions of violence
- Hate Speech
- Child Sexual Exploitation or Abuse
- Bullying & Harassment (this could include public figures)
- Hoaxes, false information, propaganda, and deliberate misinformation.
- Misinformation about the following topics:
- QAnon conspiracy theory
- Russia-Ukraine conflict
- School Shootings
- US 2020 election
- Suicide and self-harm content: Microsoft recognizes that suicide and self-harm are significant social and public health challenges, particularly among teens. While we do allow content on these topics, we do not allow content that promotes or glorifies suicide or self-harm.
- Clickbait tactics focused on shocking topics, sensationalist headlines that exaggerate and use hyperbole/inflammatory language to grab attention and/or excitable punctuation (e.g. exclamation points), stories that exaggerate the impact of a minor or insignificant event, or misrepresent the actual information contained in the article.
- Sensationalist content that intentionally exaggerates or distorts information, is hyperbolic in nature, or uses inflammatory language to provoke emotional reactions without factual basis.
- Manipulated and synthetic media will be removed unless it is clearly identified and / or labelled, and not intended to deceive or cause real-world harm.
- Advertising and advertorial content.
- Content that contains only links.
- Content designed primarily to market products or services.
- Content that is scraped from other sites without full written permission from the aggregated sites.
- Sites that are not published with some level of frequency. For news sites we expect a minimum of 10 articles to be published daily including live/breaking coverage; if non-news then publishing new content five times per month is the minimum.
- Content that does not adhere to basic standards of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, and word usage.
- Content that contains medical information or advice not reviewed by a licensed medical professional or medical board.
Section 5: Responsibilities for Multimedia
Partners are responsible for ensuring any embedded video and images within their content meet our standards and that they have copyright permission to use the media.
Section 6: Accountability and Transparency
Every Partner’s website must contain the following:
About Page: Identifying the company or individual partners’ mission or founding story. Ownership of the site must be identified. Information should include:
- Publisher Name and owner
- A way for readers to contact them, like a physical address, phone number or email address.
*Video-only partners are excluded from this requirement
Disclosure Statement: Partners must disclose external funding, support, or conflicts of interest on the article page.
Conflicts of Interest: If a Partner has a real or perceived conflict of interest (including financial or personal) in the topic of their content, they must disclose that noticeably on their content.
Product Endorsements with Compensation: If a product is being endorsed by a Creator or Publisher and they receive any financial incentive to endorse the product it must be clearly disclosed in the content. Suggested wording: ‘This author receives a commission through recommended links in this content.’
Product Endorsements with No Compensation: If a Creator or Publisher endorses a product and is not receiving any financial incentive to endorse the product it must be clearly disclosed in the content. Suggested wording: ‘This author does not receive a commission through recommended links in this content.’
Section 7: Content Attribution and Representation
Any content sent to Microsoft Start must have the following:
- Must provide clear, verifiable credit for content, such as an article, photo, photo gallery, slideshow, music, video and graphic. It is preferable that the credits are on each piece of content (for slideshows and galleries each one should have a credit). The exception is if the About page clearly states that all content (text, video, images) is created by one person.
- Bylines must primarily use the full names of the writers (no pseudonyms or posts by “Admin”) (Exceptions can be made for writers who have a strong reason to remain anonymous, or use a pseudonym, such as personal safety or an established brand name).
- Do not create a fake profile, fake name, or falsify information about yourself or an author on your site. We don’t allow fake profiles or entities. Do not use an image of someone else, or any other image that is not your likeness for a profile photo, or for the profile image of an author on your site.
- Sources must be named for facts, quotes, and opinions.
- Headlines and link text must accurately represent the connected content.
- Site content must consistently reflect the stated purpose and theme of the site.
- Content must make clear with a label the boundary between opinion and fact. All commentary, opinion, and reviews must be clearly labeled as such.
- If your contract allows affiliate links, ensure that they are not excessive and comply with the Creative Acceptance Policy
Section 8: Content Rights and Responsibility
Our partners must have legal rights to publish the content on their sites and in articles and assume responsibility for the content published within that is from a third-party site.