LinkedIn is the only major US social network authorized to operate in China. To do so, Microsoft’s owned service for professionals censors the posts of millions of Chinese users.
Now, it is in hot water because of not enough censorship.
Earlier this month, China’s internet regulator reprimanded LinkedIn executives for failing to control political content. While it’s unclear exactly what documents caused the company to trouble, the regulator said it found protest posts circulating around the time around the founders’ annual meeting. French, these people requested anonymity because the issue was not made public.
Officials are asking LinkedIn to do a self-assessment and report to the China Cyber Administration, the country’s internet regulator, for punishment as a punishment, they said. The service was also forced to suspend new registrations of users inside China for 30 days, one of them added, though that period of time could change depending on the government’s ruling.
The CAC did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
LinkedIn’s presence in China has long drawn interest across Silicon Valley as a potential avenue into the country’s unobtrusive internet, home to the world’s largest group of web users. The sanctions emphasize the deep divide between the United States and China over how the Internet works.
For years, the Chinese government blocked major US services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google due to its inability to control what was posted there. In Washington, critics say such hurdles are a sign that China is not willing to adhere to global norms governing the internet and technology more broadly.
China’s LinkedIn service, which has more than 50 million members, makes it vulnerable to tensions between the two powers. The race with the regulator comes just weeks before the scheduled meeting on Thursday between Chinese and US officials in Alaska, the Biden administration’s first sit-on.
Technology competition is the main attachment between the two countries. The Biden administration has said it will turn to allies to help pressure China over technology policies it deems unfair. Chinese officials have pushed for new plans for technological self-reliance, which involves developing own versions of everything from computer chips to jets.
Anxiety in Washington was recently heightened by a hack that Microsoft planned to link with China aimed at businesses and government agencies that use the company’s email service.
On March 9, LinkedIn posted a notice saying it had “temporarily” stopped registering new users in China. “We are a global platform with an obligation to respect the laws that apply to us, including by complying with the Chinese government’s regulations on our localized version of LinkedIn in China. , ”The statement adds.
Local Chinese companies often endure similar scolding, showing how difficult it is to navigate an internet market characterized by increasingly tightened speech control. On the Chinese Internet, a censorship agreement does not guarantee favorable conditions for any company, foreign or local.
When it first announced it would open a website in China nearly seven years ago, LinkedIn drew curiosity from a US internet industry that was long banned by the country’s Great Firewall, because of the system. Chinese censorship is set for that. To ensure its presence, LinkedIn has sold stakes to well-connected Chinese venture capital partners and is committed to complying with local laws, including censorship guidelines.
The company used a combination of software algorithms and reviewers to flag posts that could offend Beijing. Users who violate the speaking rules often receive emails informing them that their posts cannot be viewed by LinkedIn members in China.
Its early efforts drew outrage from users whose content was blocked even when they posted from outside. However, unlike its peers, LinkedIn remains in China and provides a market access case study.
That perseverance doesn’t always translate into success. LinkedIn has struggled to compete with WeChat, China’s popular chat and social network service, and remains a relatively small competitor.
The environment also becomes more difficult. Since taking the helm of the Communist Party in late 2012, Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, has carried out a series of crackdowns on the internet. Xi’s policies also call for deeper economic resilience and a move away from Western culture, a blow to a service that has the appeal of connecting Chinese experts to the world.
Xi has presided over the growing power of the CAC, the governing body that has punished LinkedIn. It has become a de facto censor, looking at the country’s internet memes and complaints, and calling for takedowns when corporate censors miss something.