The layoffs are part of a more significant push by Microsoft to rely on artificial intelligence to pick news and content that’s presented on MSN.com, inside Microsoft’s Edge browser, and in the company’s various Microsoft News apps.
Many of the affected workers are part of Microsoft’s SANE (search, ads, News, Edge) division, and are contracted as human editors to help pick stories.
“Like all companies, we evaluate our business regularly,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement. “This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”
While Microsoft says the layoffs aren’t directly related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, media businesses across the world have been struck by advertising revenues plummeting across TV, newspapers, online, and more.
THE LAYOFFS ARE HAPPENING IN THE US AND UK
Business Insider first reported the layoffs on Friday and said that around 50 jobs are affected in the US. The Microsoft News job losses are also affecting worldwide teams, and The Guardian reports that approximately 27 are being let go in the UK after Microsoft determined to stop employing humans to curate articles on its homepages.
Microsoft has been in the news industry for more than 25 years, after starting MSN back in 1995. At the launch of Microsoft News nearly two years ago, Microsoft revealed it had “more than 800 editors working from 50 places throughout the globe.”
Microsoft has been continuously progressing towards AI for its Microsoft News work in current months and has been assisting publishers and reporters to make use of AI, too.
Microsoft has been using AI to scan for content and then process and filter it and even suggest photos for human editors to pair it with. Microsoft had been using human proofreaders to curate top stories from a variety of sources to present on Microsoft News, MSN, and Microsoft Edge.