Microsoft is pulling the plug on LinkedIn in China nearly seven years after its launch, marking a retreat from the previous major US-owned social network in China as authorities there tighten their controls on the Internet sector.
LinkedIn said in a blog post on Thursday that it will replace the platform later this year with a stripped-down version that will focus only on jobs, called InJobs, which will not include social feeds or share options. .
“While we’ve had success helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunities, we haven’t had the same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed,” LinkedIn said.
“We are also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”
LinkedIn’s moves in China have been closely watched as a model for how a Western social media app could function within the country’s tightly regulated Internet, where many other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are banned.
The platform expanded to China in 2014, acknowledging that the company would have to censor some of the content users posted on its website in order to comply with Chinese regulations.
It has been one of the companies hit by a sweeping crackdown by Beijing over the past year, which has imposed new restrictions on its Internet companies in areas ranging from content to customer privacy. The Chinese government has also said that it wants the forum to more actively promote core socialist values.
In March, LinkedIn blocked new signups in China, saying it was working to comply with Chinese laws. Two months later, it was among 105 apps accused by China’s top internet regulator of illegally collecting and using personal information and ordered to reform them.
News website Axios reported last month that LinkedIn had blocked the profiles of several US journalists and academics from its Chinese platform that contained information that China considered sensitive, citing “prohibited content”.
Microsoft also has Bing, the only major foreign search engine accessible from within China’s so-called Great Firewall, whose search results on sensitive topics are censored.
© Thomson Reuters 2021