Microsoft said it will shut down the Chinese version of professional social networking site LinkedIn. This event marks the end of the work of the last major American social network, which officially operated in the Middle Kingdom. LinkedIn on Thursday said it made this decision after it encountered “With an overly complex operating environment and unreasonably high demands from the Chinese authorities”.
In March, LinkedIn said it was temporarily suspending new account registrations in China as it might not comply with current Chinese legal requirements. Around the same time, the Chinese regulator demanded that LinkedIn tighten its content moderation and gave the social network 30 days to comply with this requirement. In recent months, LinkedIn has notified several activists, human rights defenders, academics and journalists that their profiles have been blocked in China for containing content that is prohibited in the country.
LinkedIn said it will replace the Chinese version of its service with a job posting service devoid of a social component. The shutdown of LinkedIn in China is the latest chapter in the confrontation that Western internet companies have faced in China, which has some of the world’s strictest censorship rules. Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in the country since 2009. Google left China in 2010 after refusing to censor search results. The anonymous messenger Signal and the social network Clubhouse were blocked this year. Power users can access these services using workarounds like VPNs, but many people don’t use them.
LinkedIn entered the Chinese market in 2014 after a series of concessions and local censorship regulations. In China, the social network is often used by Chinese exporters and businessmen to connect with foreign customers in the hope of boosting overseas sales.
This year, LinkedIn made it to China’s list of 105 companies accused by regulators of excessive collection of personal data. Also on the list was the search engine Bing, another brainchild of Microsoft. A White House spokesman said the US administration welcomes Microsoft’s decision to shut down LinkedIn in China. The Chinese Embassy in Washington has not yet commented on the event.
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