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Why LinkedIn is being replaced with a bare-bones job search platform in China

Microsoft announced that LinkedIn is shutting down in China after seven years amid censorship and regulatory issues.

LinkedIn has pulled out of China after failing to make room for itself in the country’s tightly regulated and censored social media market. “Our new strategy for China is to put our focus on helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates,” Mohak Shroff, Linkedin’s Senior Vice President, said in a blog post announcing the platform’s withdrawal from China. In place of LinkedIn, the company said that it will be launching a new app called InJobs later this year.

Foreign and domestic technology firms have been facing increasing scrutiny by the Chinese government through lawsuits, penal actions, content takedown requests, and so on. Linkedin was the only major foreign social media platform operating in China where the company said that it had its third-largest user base.

Why is Microsoft shutting down LinkedIn in China?

In its post, Microsoft said that it found a “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.” It also said that while it had found significant success in helping Chinese businesses and professionals find opportunities, it did not find the same in “the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed”. The replacement ‘inJobs’ app, while facilitating job searches, will not have a social news feed or other features to share articles or posts.

Last year, a Chinese intelligence agent had testified to an American court about using Linkedin to find contacts. In 2017, Germany’s intelligence agency said Chinese agents had used LinkedIn to target at least 10,000 Germans.

Censorship and regulatory issues faced by LinkedIn in China

  • March 2021: LinkedIn had to suspend new member sign-ups on LinkedIn China after its executives were rebuked by Chinese authorities for lax censorship.
  • May 2021: The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) found LinkedIn as well as Microsoft’s search engine Bing, to be among 100 apps that were engaged in the improper collection and use of data.
  • September 2021: LinkedIn faced criticism for restricting the profiles of China news correspondents of foreign news publications from users in the country. Before this, it had restricted the accounts of various academics and reporters critical of the Chinese government on its platform.

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I cover health technology for MediaNama, among other things. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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