LinkedIn closes its China service because of censorship concerns

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LinkedIn closes its China service because of censorship concerns

Later this year Microsoft closed its main LinkedIn service in China after internet rules were tightened by Beijing, the latest American tech giant to lessen its ties to the country.

The company said in a blog post Thursday that it faced a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China. LinkedIn will replace its local platform in China with a new app called InJobs that has some of LinkedIn's Career Networking features, but will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles. LinkedIn told Hive it would pause new member sign-ups on LinkedIn China in March because of unspecified regulatory issues. China s Internet watchdog said in May that it had found LinkedIn as well as Bing search engine Microsoft, and about 100 other apps were engaged in improper collection and use of data and ordered them to fix the problem.

Several scholars reported getting warning letters from LinkedIn this year that they shared prohibited content that would not be seen in China but could still be seen by LinkedIn users elsewhere.

Tony Lee, a scholar at Berlin s Free University, told the AP in June that LinkedIn didn t tell him which content was banned but said it was tied to the section of his profile where he listed his publications. Among his list articles was one about the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing s Tiananmen Square and another comparing Chinese leader Xi Jinping with former leader Mao Zedong

It has been more than seven years since LinkedIn launched a website in simplified Chinese, the written characters used on the mainland, to expand its reach in the country. It said at the time of the launch in early 2014 that expanding in China raises difficult questions because it will be required to censor content, but that it would be clear about how it conducts business in China and undertake extensive measures to protect members rights and data.

LinkedIn once served a critical role, as the only social media network on which Chinese and Western colleagues could communicate away from Chinese Communist Party censorship and prying eyes, said Eyck Freymann, another scholar who received a censorship warning letter this year in a text message Thursday.

Freymann, a doctoral student studying in Oxford University, said it is shameful that Microsoft spent months censoring its own users — and, worse, bullying them to self-censor. The company eventually made the right decision to pull the plug on China.

Google pulled its search engine out of mainland China in 2010 after the government began censoring search results and videos on YouTube.