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    Friday, October 15, 2021

    Microsoft to Shut LinkedIn in China Amid Beijing Tech Clampdown

    Olufemi Adeyemi 

    Microsoft on Thursday said that it was shutting down its professional networking service, LinkedIn in China later this year, citing “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements,” in a move that completes the fracture between American social networks and China, as authorities there further tighten their control over the Internet sector.

    The professional networking site was the only major US social media platform that had been left operating in China.

    LinkedIn said in a blog post on Thursday that it would replace the platform later this year with a stripped-down version that would focus only on jobs, called InJobs, which would not include a social feed or share options.

    "While we've found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed," LinkedIn said.

    "We're 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 operate within the country's tightly regulated Internet, where many other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are banned.

    The platform expanded in China in 2014, acknowledging at the time that the company would have to censor some of the content users posted on its website to comply with Chinese rules.

    It has been among the companies hit over the past year by a wide-ranging crackdown by Beijing, which has imposed fresh curbs on its Internet companies on areas from content to customer privacy. The Chinese government has also said it wants platforms to more actively promote core socialist values.

    In March, LinkedIn paused new signups in China, saying that it was working to be compliant with Chinese laws. Two months later, it was among 105 apps that was accused by China's top internet regulator of illegally collecting and using personal information and was ordered to make rectifications.

    News website Axios last month reported that LinkedIn had blocked from its Chinese platform the profiles of several US journalists and academics which contained information China considers sensitive, citing "prohibited content."

    Microsoft also owns Bing, the only major foreign search engine accessible from within China's so-called Great Firewall whose search results on sensitive topics are censored.

    Social media sites are subject to strict rules in China and are required to hand over the personal data of Chinese users when asked by the government. The platforms are also required to delete sensitive content, such as posts that are critical of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

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