China Warns Microsoft That LinkedIn Isn't Suppressing Enough Voices
from the now-that's-censorship dept
As a bunch of US lawmakers keep threatening new laws that would force websites to remove more content, we should note just how much such moves reflect what is happening in China. The NY Times reports that Microsoft is in hot water in China, because LinkedIn apparently has been too slow to block content that displeases the Chinese government. As the article notes, LinkedIn is the one major US social network that is allowed in China — but only if it follows China’s Great Firewall censorship rules.
If you’re not familiar with how that works, it’s not that the government tells you what to take down — it’s just that the government makes it clear that if you let something through that you shouldn’t, you’re going to hear about it, and risk punishment. And it appears that’s exactly what’s happened to Microsoft:
China?s internet regulator rebuked LinkedIn executives this month for failing to control political content, according to three people briefed on the matter. Though it isn?t clear precisely what material got the company into trouble, the regulator said it had found objectionable posts circulating in the period around an annual meeting of China?s lawmakers, said these people, who asked for anonymity because the issue isn?t public.
As a punishment, the people said, officials are requiring LinkedIn to perform a self-evaluation and offer a report to the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country?s internet regulator. The service was also forced to suspend new sign-ups of users inside China for 30 days, one of the people added, though that period could change depending on the administration?s judgment.
Or, Microsoft/LinkedIn could do the right thing and tell the Chinese government “sorry,” and just stop doing business in China. The NY Times article even notes that LinkedIn doesn’t even get that much usage in China. So why bother with this hassle in a way that makes the company look so bad?
Also, I’ll just note the grand irony of Microsoft doing this just a week or so after Microsoft’s President Brad Smith testified before Congress on how “technology companies” must support “democracy.” Of course, in that context, Smith was just doing it to attack Google and the open web. But, hey, as long as it can get money from China, apparently all that “democracy” stuff isn’t so important to Microsoft any more.