Microsoft, one of the largest tech companies in the world, recently announced that it would soon stop the operation of LinkedIn in China. The tech giant said it would shut down the local version of LinkedIn in China due to the Chinese government’s continuous censorship of the internet.
China has been very strict with many social networks and tech firms over the past years. LinkedIn is the last major US-based social network that is still operating in the country. The strict censorship rules in the country have made many tech companies pack up and leave. Social medial websites and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been blocked for over ten years now in the country. In 2010, Google stopped its operation in the country.
Microsoft Shuts Down LinkedIn In China Due to Strict Regulations
Microsoft said it is shutting down the operation of LinkedIn in China because of the greater compliance requirements and the more challenging operating environment in the country, says Mohak Shroff – the senior vice president of LinkedIn. The company said that while they are going to sunset the local version of the social network in China later this year, they will continue to have a strong presence in the country to push their new strategies.
The news comes after the social network platform faced several questions for blocking the profiles of some US journalists in China. LinkedIn blocked the profile of several journalists in the country because of prohibited content.
Back in March, a Chinese internet regulator also told the career-networking platform to better moderate their content, and they gave them only 30 days to do that. LinkedIn has been playing to the rules of the country since its launch in 2014. The social network platform launched in the country with limited features that comply with the strict internet laws in China.
According to data from Statista, China is the third-largest market for LinkedIn in the world. Back in July, the chief executive officer of Microsoft – Satya Nadella – said that LinkedIn generates over $10 billion in avenue yearly.
LinkedIn to Launch an Alternative App in China
During the announcement, the tech giant said that it would launch an alternative app after shutting down LinkedIn in China. It would launch a new app for the Chinese market, but the app would focus only on job postings. The name of the new app is “IN Jobs,” but it comes with limited features. It will not come with most of the features in the main LinkedIn app.
It would be a jobs-only version of the platform, and it would be launched later this year. IN Jobs will not have a social feed; neither can users post nor share articles. It would also lack the commenting feature. All these features have been critical to the success of this social network in the US and other parts of the world.
The recent action of LinkedIn is known to be one of the most far-reaching experiments of an international social media platform in China – a country where the government has strict regulations and control over the internet.
The internet in China is operated behind a filtration system called the Great Firewall, and it is censored heavily. Back in 2014, when LinkedIn came into the country, it provided a cautious model for other top tech and social media firms that want to tap into the highly censored, lucrative, and huge market of the country. LinkedIn collaborated with a highly connected venture capital company that it said would make it operate by the rules and regulations of the government.
The career-networking platform also agreed to censor the posts of millions of users in China to comply with the laws of the country. This is something that many top US firms were unable or reluctant to do. In 2014, LinkedIn said how challenging this would be, saying the social networking platform supports freedom of expression and disagrees with government censorship.
Several years down the lane, it is obvious that the experiment of the company did not work. LinkedIn has been struggling with several local competitors. The company has also been in many regulatory issues. The Chinese regulator purportedly punished LinkedIn back in March for not censoring political content. LinkedIn was suspended for registering new users for 30 days.
However, the shutdown of LinkedIn in China will affect many people, as many professionals in China will not be able to connect with others. Many Chinese intelligence agencies have also been using the platform as a recruitment tool.
Lu Jian – the President of LinkedIn China – told the users of the platform that they would continue to connect global business opportunities. Nevertheless, the shutdown of the platform in the country shows an opposite trend. The heavy internet restriction and control in China have shifted further away from the entire world, and this makes things more difficult for foreign businesses and companies in the county to close the gap.