After multiple controversies surrounding government censorship and tightening restrictions on tech, Microsoft has announced they are shutting down LinkedIn in China and replacing it with a jobs-only site. The transition is expected to happen later this year.
LinkedIn, the only Western-based social media platform currently operating in China, will be shutting down the site by the end of the year. Multiple controversies surrounding increased censorship have made it hard to operate in a country with an extremely censored internet. In a recent blog post written by senior vice president, Mohak Shroff said that “we’re facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China” (Washington Post).
Microsoft launched LinkedIn in China in 2014 and agreed to adhere to requirements of the Chinese government. However, the company also said that while they were going to be operating in China, it also strongly disagreed with government censorship. Controversy surrounded LinkedIn’s operation in China first when it was punished by the Chinese regime for allowing political content to appear on the site: something that is normally strictly censored. The latest round of public scrutiny came after the site blocked and censored the accounts of multiple journalists who were critical of China and the Chinese Communist party (BBC).
The censorship was met with backlash from multiple US political figures. The BBC reported that Rick Scott, a United States senator, led the criticism in a letter to LinkedIn in which he called the move to censor the journalists was “a gross appeasement and an act of submission to Communist China”. Even though the LinkedIn site is going down soon, Microsoft will be launching a new app called InJobs to take its place. However, because of the heavy censorship required to operate in China, the new app will only function as a job-finding site but will not have a social feed component.