What happened? Microsoft recently announced that the local version of LinkedIn in China will be shutting down after seven years of continuous operation. The news came four months after rights activists, academics and journalists announced that their LinkedIn profile had been blocked in China, preventing them from accessing their accounts.
LinkedIn launched in China in 2014 and has a local version of the app that meets the requirements of the Chinese government. The Chinese LinkedIn app has worked as expected for seven consecutive years and has helped many Chinese find work. However, the social part of the program has been disrupted by the Chinese government.
In March 2021, China gave LinkedIn (read Microsoft) 30 days to "better fine tune" the content provided by the platform. However, given the result, it appears that little work has been done to improve the situation. After a few months, some users started getting notifications telling them that their profile had been blocked due to illegal content.
LinkedIn announced today that it will replace a new standard program called InJobs. The program focuses solely on “helping professionals based in China find jobs in China and Chinese companies find good candidates”, and avoids any potential social problems that may arise. The new InJobs app launched later this year, and it lacks social media features like feeds or sharing posts and articles.
Banning LinkedIn is not the first time that Microsoft has been forced to comply with Chinese requirements In 2016, Microsoft introduced a unique version of Windows 10 that includes a unique "more management and security controls", it was China. Chinese government censorship laws include Facebook and Twitter in 2009 and Google in 2010. In 2021, the messaging app Signal and the social voice app Clubhouse were also banned.
With LinkedIn outside of China, Amazon and Github review systems are the only external platforms allowed to host user-generated content in the country. However, given how China is fighting tech companies by cracking down on gaming and cryptocurrency, we wouldn't be surprised if the operation spreads to other regions.
Image credit: Greg Paula, Sovic Banerjee
LinkedIn will be closed in China and replaced with a new program called InJobs