Microsoft is shutting down its LinkedIn social network in China, claiming that complying with the Chinese government has grown increasingly difficult.
It comes after the career-networking site was chastised for removing several journalists’ profiles.
Later this year, LinkedIn will introduce InJobs, a jobs-only version of the site.
However, there will be no social feed or option to share or post content.
“We’re confronting a considerably more demanding operating environment and more compliance requirements in China,” said LinkedIn senior vice president Mohak Shroff in a blog post.
“While we will be sunsetting the localised version of LinkedIn in China later this year, we will continue to have a strong presence in China to promote our new strategy and are pleased to debut the new InJobs app later this year,” the company said in a statement.
In China, LinkedIn has been the sole significant Western social networking platform.
When it first opened shop in China in 2014, it agreed to comply with the Chinese government’s regulations in order to operate there, but it also vowed to be honest about how it did business in the nation and stated that it opposed government censorship.
LinkedIn has removed many journalist accounts from its China-based website, including Melissa Chan’s and Greg Bruno’s.
Mr Bruno, who has authored a book about China’s treatment of Tibetan exiles, told Verdict that he was “dismayed that an American tech firm is giving in to the demands of a foreign government.”
In a letter to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, US senator Rick Scott termed the decision “gross appeasement and an act of surrender to Communist China.”
The Firewall Around China Tightens
It’s difficult to say if LinkedIn’s decision was influenced by Chinese or US pressure. It might be both, since the Chinese government has tightened its grip on the internet, and LinkedIn has come under fire in the United States for complying with Beijing’s censorship restrictions.
In 2014, LinkedIn developed a Chinese version in the hopes of capitalizing on the country’s massive market.
It has battled against local competitors and ran into regulatory issues after seven years. The Chinese regulator allegedly sanctioned LinkedIn in March for failing to control political information, resulting in a 30-day suspension of new user registration. Apart from the censorship concerns, the site has been utilized as a recruiting tool by Chinese intelligence agents.
President of LinkedIn China Lu Jian wrote a letter to the platform’s Chinese users today, promising that the site will continue to “connect worldwide business prospects.”
The closure of LinkedIn in China, on the other hand, demonstrates the polar opposite tendency. The country’s tightly regulated internet has become increasingly isolated from the rest of the world, making it difficult for international companies doing business in China to cross the gap.