Microsoft is closing down its LinkedIn product in China and developing a new version of the platform that will follow Chinese Communist Party rules.
The new version of LinkedIn for China, InJobs, will help people find employment but the company said Thursday it “will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles.”
Microsoft‘s capitulation to China‘s restrictions on free expression for its social media platform follows reports of journalists receiving messages earlier this year from LinkedIn saying the company would censor their content in China.
“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,” Mohak Shroff, LinkedIn senior vice president of engineering, wrote on the company’s blog. “We’re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China. Given this, we’ve made the decision to sunset the current localized version of LinkedIn, which is how people in China access LinkedIn‘s global social media platform, later this year.”
The new platform that does not allow people to share information represents a new direction for LinkedIn.
In June, Federalist senior contributor Benjamin Weingarten published a screenshot of a message from LinkedIn that said his LinkedIn profile and activity would not be visible to those accessing LinkedIn from China because of “legal requirements” coming from the communist regime. Mr. Weingarten shared the message on Twitter and called it “unbelievable, yet totally believable.”
In September, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian published to Twitter a receipt of a similar message from LinkedIn alerting her to its censorship of her profile because of “prohibited content” in her profile.
Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, wrote to the CEOs of LinkedIn and Microsoft in September questioning its actions to censor reporters.
“The censorship of these journalists raises serious questions about Microsoft‘s intentions and its commitment to standing up against Communist China‘s horrific human rights abuses and repeated attacks against democracy,” Mr. Scott wrote in the letter.
While LinkedIn has sought to maintain a presence in China, other social media platforms such as Facebook have avoided operating there.
People using social media in China face far different consequences for criticism of the government than in America. Last week, police in China detained former journalist Luo Changping over social media commentary questioning Beijing’s role in the Korean War that was the basis for a new film debuting in China, according to The New York Times.
Mr. Luo’s account on the tech platform Weibo was blocked, his post deleted, and Mr. Luo was reportedly charged under a new law cracking down on defamation of political martyrs.
LinkedIn said that its new InJobs platform will launch in China later this year.