What just happened? Microsoft recently announced that the China-localized version of LinkedIn will shut down after seven years of continuous operation. The news came four months after human-right activists, academics and journalists reported that their LinkedIn profiles were blocked in China, preventing them from accessing their accounts.
LinkedIn was launched in China back in 2014, featuring a localized version of the app that abides by the requirements of the Chinese government. The LinkedIn Chinese app worked as expected for seven years straight, helping many Chinese folks find jobs. However, the social part of the app was found troublesome by the Chinese government.
In March of 2021, China advised LinkedIn (read Microsoft) it had 30 days to “better regulate” the content presented by the platform, but judging by the outcome, it seems not much was done to improve the situation. A few months after, certain users started receiving notifications informing them that their profiles were blocked because they held illicit content.
Today, LinkedIn announced it would replace the standard app with a new one called InJobs. This app would solely focus on “helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates,” avoiding any potential social issues it may cause. Scheduled to launch later this year, the new InJobs app won’t feature social media functionalities like a feed or the ability to share posts and articles.
LinkedIn’s ban isn’t the first time Microsoft had to meet the requirements presented by China. In 2016, Microsoft released a unique Windows 10 variant featuring “more management and security controls” exclusive to China.
Besides Microsoft, many other big tech companies have had their services shut down in China, mostly due to the Chinese government censorship rules. These include Facebook and Twitter in 2009 and Google in 2010. In 2021, the messaging app Signal and social audio app Clubhouse were also blocked.
With LinkedIn out of China, Amazon’s review system and Github are the only foreign platforms allowed to host user-generated content in the country. However, considering how things are going with China battling tech companies by cracking down on gaming and cryptocurrencies, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this operation extended to other areas.