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Microsoft Bing's China outage may have been a technical error, not a block

The search engine outage didn't follow the pattern of an intentional censorship block, Reuters reports.

Bing Blocked In China

Microsoft's Bing search engine was unavailable on Friday in China.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

China's government may not have censored Microsoft's Bing search engine after all.

The service's outage stemmed from a technical problem, Reuters reported Monday, citing an anonymous source. Microsoft didn't get any prior notice of a block from the Chinese government and it wasn't an intentional move, the source reportedly said. The Financial Times reported last week that the outage was the result of a government order.

The outage resulted in Chinese internet users who tried to access cn.bing.com being directed to an error page, as they would if they tried to access other sites blocked in the country, the outlet reported. The problem lasted from Thursday to late Friday, it noted.

Microsoft confirmed the outage, but didn't offer any comment on the cause, or the report. 

"We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement on Monday.

Google pulled out of China in 2010 to avoid censorship, and last year an effort to bring a censored version of its service -- known as the Dragonfly project -- to the country was mired in controversy. Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo are among the many Western sites blocked by the Great Firewall of China.

China's Cyberspace Administration couldn't be reached for comment.