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Microsoft kills LinkedIn in China after censorship complications

LinkedIn
LinkedIn (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • LinkedIn has operated in China for years.
  • In March 2021, LinkedIn got in trouble with the Chinese government for not properly censoring itself.
  • Now, Microsoft is killing off LinkedIn in China, having decided it's not worth the hassle anymore.
  • InJobs, an app devoid of social feeds or potentially troublesome article sharing, will replace LinkedIn.

LinkedIn's time in China is over. While it had managed to persist there for over half a decade (having launched there in 2014), March 2021's censorship debacle seems to have helped pave the way for Microsoft to finally pull the plug. In LinkedIn's stead, new app InJobs will be released by the end of 2021.

LinkedIn has known since day one that it would have to operate within specific parameters to fit the Chinese government's rules and regulations. However, in March 2021, it got slapped by Chinese internet regulators for not properly censoring certain political content being facilitated on the site. Sign-ups for LinkedIn were suspended for a month and LinkedIn had to undergo review.

A few months later, some journalists found themselves walled off from China's LinkedIn (via The Guardian). It was a contentious moment for the platform, given growing concerns about censorship.

Now, Microsoft has officially thrown in the towel. LinkedIn's China operations are shutting down, to be replaced with InJobs, which LinkedIn told Axios is all about "helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates." Here's the twist: InJobs won't have social feeds or allow for article sharing or posting.

LinkedIn said the changes have come about because of "a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China." InJobs is designed to limit liability and risk while still accomplishing core job board functions.

Though not an identical situation by any measure, recall that Microsoft's Windows 11 has also had a hard time integrating with the Chinese market due to the country's rules.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

16 Comments
  • I like the photo of the HP Elite x3.
  • It's a nice pic, right? Was more for the "LinkedIn dying a cold death in the snow" vibe than the Elite, but hey, beauty's in the eye of the beholder. Hope you had some good pad thai recently.
  • Thanks for the Windows Phone throwback, whatever the motivating reason! :-)
  • No prob, Colin. I actually get a massive kickback every time I do a postmortem Windows phone reference, so this is par for the course.
  • "InJobs won't have social feeds or allow for article sharing or posting." Please can we have the China version as well.
  • +1. I swear LinkedIn is becoming the new Facebook. Tired of all social feeds there. Last week I saw someone sharing pictures of their holiday on LinkedIn
  • +100 percent true man!
  • I get that you mean less social noise (and agree that would be nice), not that you are endorsing Chinese censorship, but the solution for speech you don't like is the freedom to argue it, not censorship. These stories about companies kowtowing to Chinese authoritarianism and censorship are crushingly sad to me. I don't have a solution -- the Chinese gov't has all the power, unlike in a democracy that endorses free speech and diversity of ideas and points of view -- but I'd still like to see more companies stand up for freedom and doing what's right, even if it does hurt their near-term profits. If all capitalist and freedom supporting countries stopped doing business with China until they gain the some freedoms the rest of us enjoy, even the power of that government couldn't save it. Then there could be true free trade with China and its people, which would ultimately be far more profitable than dealing with the current authoritarian China. Unfortunately, most companies don't have the patience to look at that long-term, big picture, but for those on the left who like to say, "Think Global, Act Local," let that apply to trade with China too.
  • This is a great opportunity to note that what we are talking about here is actual censorship (governments tell us what we can and can't publish), not dummies whining about their obnoxious comments being deleted. I'd like to applaud Microsoft for standing up to a very scary authoritarian government, but if you think about it, it's not a very courageous move. It's simply removing the link sharing features from LinkedIn.
  • Andrew, you've explicitly been proven wrong on your warped definition of censorship multiple times here. Must we go through this again? And yeah, I don't think anyone (outside of a few misguided Twitter folks) is giving MS any props here. They're bending the knee under a new product name.
  • You can go ahead and call whatever you want whatever you want. For example, you can call crypto "currency."
  • Andrew, while I support a private company's legal right to control content and agree with you that it's different from government controlled censorship (which is indeed far, far worse), any control over words still falls under the definition of censorship. My company has a website and we censor content somewhat. I'd like to think less than Twitter, Facebook, and their ilk, but we still do. In our case, it's only against direct calls for violence or illegal activities, but even that is still a form of censorship. Just as I support their legal right to do it (and ours), I condemn the way they've chose to exercise that right (but not ours, I think we're doing it right). Instead of encouraging conflicting ideas to debate and discuss, something they could foster easily through gamification, they isolate different ideas and ban many with which they disagree. I think that's abhorrent behavior. Given their massive power, they are inflicting a form of censorship on US citizens that is just as chilling to the national dialog as if it were imposed by the government. That's a horrendous abuse of their power and their legal rights. I also believe they should lose their Section 230 protection, which was specifically intended to protect ISPs and what were effectively bulletin board sites against lawsuits on the grounds that they couldn't possibly police content from the millions of users on their sites. Now that they are policing that content, they are functioning more as a publisher than a public board and therefore don't deserve the protection of Section 230.
  • "any control over words still falls under the definition of censorship" No, it's not. I recognize that other people have other definitions (see PBS's Culture Shock's long list), but that loose definition is basically meaningless. It is made this loose specifically because some people wish to elevate their petty complaints (in our day and age, usually violation of some user agreement) to something more sinister. Censorship is an attempt to eliminate any expression of a particular idea; it's trying to eliminate it from the public view entirely. It is NOT deleting certain content from a specific private platform, allowing the offenders to go somewhere else and say what they want. (Speech that incites violence is different because the platform might be liable for what happens.) Your objections to Twitter's and Facebook's policies seem to stem from the fact that it verges on actual censorship: they are effectively suppressing certain expression.
  • Accidental post. Deleted.
  • ALso could be written as "China kills LinkedIn" with censorship.
  • Good on them. Ultimately it's China who misses out with draconian rules, scrubbing uncomfortable areas from their history from existence.