By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 15: The internationally renowned tech company Microsoft on Thursday announced that it will shut down its career specific network LinkedIn in China amid growing scrutiny from Beijing on tech firms. The senior Vice-President Mohak Shroff said that it will replace the website in China with another application dedicated for jobs but without the networking features.
“We’re… facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China,” he clarified. The Wall Street Journal reported that LinkedIn was given a deadline by the Chinese regulators regarding content on the site. LinkedIn blocked the profiles of several U.S. journalists on the company’s China-based platform citing “prohibited content” several weeks back.
The targeted journalists in late September reported receiving similar messages saying that their profiles were blocked for sharing prohibited content. “We’re a global platform that respects the laws that apply to us, including adhering to Chinese government regulations for our localized version of LinkedIn in China,” the company said in response two weeks ago.
Microsoft intends to “sunset” [terminate] the China version of LinkedIn and launch an InJobs application dedicated to the same objective of linking professionals with companies seeking employers. “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,” Shroff further said. InJobs will not include a social aspect or the ability to share posts or articles.
Chinese authorities have continued to target a range of home grown tech giants for alleged monopolistic practices and aggressive harvesting of consumer data. LinkedIn was launched in China in 2014 and grew as a platform for people in personal and professional relationships to find job opportunities. Microsoft bought the famous website for over $26 billion in 2016 and was able to build a strong presence in China despite heavy online censorship. Facebook and Twitter are banned in China for more than a decade, whereas Google left the country in 2010 over censorship concerns.