LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship
from the UNSUBSCRIBE dept
Less than week from its horrendous decision to help China’s censorship apparatus keep Chinese residents from accessing the accounts of American journalists, LinkedIn has announced it will no longer be offering the full-featured version of its quasi-social media platform in the country. (via the BBC)
Specifically cited in senior vice president Morak Shroff’s announcement is China’s escalating censorship demands, albeit in a bit more non-specific terms. It also acknowledges Microsoft and LinkedIn made a calculated decision to do business with a government that had the power to shut it down (or run it off) if LinkedIn failed to satisfactorily acquiesce.
Our decision to launch a localized version of LinkedIn in China in February 2014 was driven by our mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. We recognized that operating a localized version of LinkedIn in China would mean adherence to requirements of the Chinese government on Internet platforms. While we strongly support freedom of expression, we took this approach in order to create value for our members in China and around the world. We also established a clear set of guidelines to follow should we ever need to re-evaluate our localized version of LinkedIn in China.
This strategy has enabled us to navigate the operation of our localized version of LinkedIn in China over the past seven years to help our members in China find a job, share and stay informed. While we’ve found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed. We’re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China. Given this, we’ve made the decision to sunset the current localized version of LinkedIn, which is how people in China access LinkedIn’s global social media platform, later this year.
This makes LinkedIn the last US-based social media service to exit the Chinese market. It was preceded by all the rest, which have either been blocked or voluntarily parted ways with the country. And this announcement doesn’t mean LinkedIn is completely done with China. The post says it will offer a stripped down version called “InJobs,” which will only contain users’ contact information and job histories. It’s just LinkedIn with all the “social” stuff removed, like the ability to share posts or articles.
That should reduce the number of censorship demands to near zero. But it’s China, so demands will continue to be made. This slimmed-down version of LinkedIn still gives the government the option of vanishing accounts of people it doesn’t like, making it more difficult for them to connect with potential employees and employers.
On the whole, it’s a good decision by LinkedIn. The past few years have seen demands ramp up. And they’ve also seen LinkedIn’s compliance rise to meet the demand. It’s not a good look for a US tech company, no matter how enticing a market of a billion potential users is.