What just happened? Microsoft recently announced that the China-localized version of LinkedIn will be shutting down after seven years of continuous operation. The news came four months after human rights activists, academics and journalists reported that their LinkedIn profiles were blocked in China, preventing them from accessing their accounts.
LinkedIn launched in China in 2014, with a localized version of the application that meets the requirements of the Chinese government. The LinkedIn Chinese app worked as expected for seven years in a row, helping many Chinese to find work. However, the Chinese government found the social part of the app problematic.
In March 2021, China advised LinkedIn (read Microsoft) had 30 days to “better regulate” the content presented by the platform, but judging from the result, it seems that not much was done to improve the situation. A few months later, some users started reception notifications informing them that their profiles were blocked because they contained illegal content.
Today, LinkedIn Announced I would replace the standard application with a new one called InJobs. This app would focus solely on “helping China-based professionals to find work in China and Chinese companies to find quality candidates”, avoiding any potential social problems it may cause. Scheduled to launch later this year, the new InJobs app will not feature social media features like a feed or the ability to share posts and articles.
The LinkedIn ban is not the first time that Microsoft has to comply with the requirements put forward by China. In 2016, Microsoft released a unique variant of Windows 10 with “more management and security controls” unique to China.
Besides Microsoft, many other big tech companies have shut down their services in China, mainly due to censorship rules from the Chinese government. These include Facebook and Twitter in 2009 and Google in 2010. In 2021, the Signal messaging app and the Clubhouse social audio app were also blocked.
With LinkedIn outside of China, Amazon’s review system and Github are the only foreign platforms authorized to host user-generated content in the country. However, considering how things are going with China battling tech companies by cracking down on gaming and cryptocurrencies, we wouldn’t be surprised if this operation spreads to other areas.