Tech giant Microsoft announced Thursday that it will remove its business networking site LinkedIn from the Chinese market later this year due to tough regulations from Beijing.
What did Microsoft say?
The company said in a blog post that ending the website’s operations in the country was due to “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”
LinkedIn had been criticized for blocking the profiles of American journalists in China for sharing “prohibited content.” Academics, government employees and other figures on the platform have also been blocked for similar reasons.
Linkedin has justified the move by saying its localized platform in China, which was launched in 2014, must comply with Chinese laws. Human rights organizations have condemned the censorship.
The platform will be replaced with a service called InJobs, which uses some of LinkedIn’s networking features but does not allow users to post content or share articles.
LinkedIn last major US social media site in China
LinkedIn was the last major US social media site to still be operating in China, with the government having blocked popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Eyck Freymann, a China studies researcher and doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford in the UK, told AP news agency that LinkedIn ultimately made the right choice pulling the plug. He had received a lettter from LinkedIn earlier this year that said he was sharing “prohibited content” and that his account would be hidden.
Freyman called it “shameful” that LinkedIn was engaging in censorship of its users.
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.
wd/wmr (AP, Reuters, dpa)