LinkedIn China is shutting down nearly seven years after its launch. The Microsoft-owned company cited a "challenging environment" in which to do business.
The company published a blog post about the issue, with LinkedIn senior vice-president Mohak Shroff writing:
"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... We're also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China."
The blog post also announces that LinkedIn will be replacing its social network solutions in China with a simple job board, called "InJobs", which would not include a social feed or share options.
The company first launched its experiment with a localized version in 2014. At the time, the social giant was watched closely to see if it could be a model for other platforms to follow s they attempted to enter (or, re-enter in some cases) the Chinese market. Ultimately, the company failed. No major internet platform has followed in LinkedIn’s footsteps. Its business in China struggled as it ran up against major local competitors and a population skeptical about publicly listing valuable contacts. WeChat remains the dominant communication platform, and local job board providers contine to control the market.
The company had long-attempted to work with the Chinese government, to the point where it often seemed to bend too far.
LinkedIn had been criticized for blocking the profiles of American journalists, including those of Melissa Chan and Greg Bruno, from its China-based website at the request of the CCP, accusing them of sharing "prohibited content." Academics, government employees, and other figures on the platform have also been blocked for similar reasons. Human rights organizations have condemned the censorship.
LinkedIn has justified the move by saying its localized platform in China, which was launched in 2014, must comply with Chinese laws.
Mr Bruno, who has written a book documenting China's treatment of Tibetan refugees, told Verdict he was not surprised the Chinese Communist Party did not like it but was "dismayed that an American tech company is caving into the demands of a foreign government".
Eyck Freymann, a China studies researcher and doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford in the UK, told The Associated Press that LinkedIn ultimately made the right choice by pulling the plug.
Freymann said he had received a letter from LinkedIn earlier this year that said he was sharing "prohibited content" and his account would be hidden. He called it "shameful" that LinkedIn was engaging in censorship of its users.
However, as the company's business model began to evolve, new offerings came into conflict with Chinese authorities.
"There have been a number of occasions previously where I have thought it's interesting that LinkedIn has made it this long in China, and ultimately whenever I've thought that I've reminded myself it's about posting resumes and posting recruitment notices largely, and those things are not particularly problematic in China in terms of content," Mark Natkin, managing director with Beijing-based market research firm Marbridge Consulting, told VOA News.
"And it sounds from [LinkedIn's] statement that where things have become problematic is exactly the type of content that is basically beyond that basic kind of core function," he said, referring to LinkedIn's social feed and content such as redistributed news articles.
In March, LinkedIn paused new sign-ups in China. The Chinese government retaliated by accusing the company illegally collecting and using personal information, and then fining it.
As of now, the company has not announced the exact date of the shutdown, only saying that it would happen "later this year".
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