According to The Verge, recent updates to Microsoft Edge have unintentionally caused browsing data, including URLs of visited sites, to be sent to Bing API servers, causing privacy concerns for users of the popular browser.
The issue is related to Microsoft Edge’s “follow creators” feature, which was introduced in January 2022 to help users remain abreast of new YouTube content from their favourite creators. A bug in this feature is transmitting all visited URLs and domains to Bing API endpoints.
A Reddit user with the username “hackermchackface” discovered the bug a week ago, noting that the most recent version of Microsoft Edge sends the complete URLs of nearly all visited sites to Bing API servers via the “bingapis.com/api/v7/followweb/isfollowable” endpoint, even for sites unrelated to content creators.
“hackermchackface” shared their observations in a Reddit post.
After the recent update, Edge appears to be exposing all visited URLs. The URL for the API is bingapis.com/api/v7/followweb/isfollowable?
The GET request includes the complete URL of each page visited.
This URL is referenced in very few search results, and there is no documentation for this feature. The JSON response specifies the type as ‘FollowableStatus,’ for which Google returns no results, a rare occurrence.
Am I the first person to notice this?”
Reddit users were unable to determine why Microsoft Edge was transmitting URLs to Bing API servers; however, Microsoft MVP and Stardock engineer Rafael Rivera told The Verge:
“Microsoft Edge now includes a creator follow feature that is enabled by default. It appears that the intention was to notify Bing when users visit certain websites, such as YouTube, The Verge, and Reddit. However, it appears to be malfunctioning as almost every visited domain is being redirected to Bing.”
Microsoft is investigating the problem and developing a fix. Microsoft’s Director of Communications, Caitlin Roulston, verified that the company is aware of these reports and will take the necessary measures to resolve any issues.
Users are advised to disable the “follow creators” feature in Microsoft Edge until a remedy is available to prevent potential privacy violations. Follow these steps to turn off the function:
- Choose Settings from the Edge menu (Alt + F) that appears.
- On the left, select Privacy, Search, and Services.
- The Services section is located in the right pane.
- Turn off the setting next to ‘Show suggestions to follow creators in Microsoft Edge.