Microsoft to shutdown LinkedIn in China

The company will launch a new jobs platform without a social feed or the ability to share posts and articles

Microsoft has announced it will be shutting down LinkedIn in China and instead will launch a new platform purely focused on job postings and recruitment.

LinkedIn, which has operated in China since February 2014, will be replaced later this year by InJobs, a new standalone jobs application platform built specifically for the region. It won’t include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles.

In China, social media platforms have long been required to remove inappropriate content uploaded by users however, updated rules released in February this year by the Cyberspace Administration of China specified the type of actions that are banned, which include fabricating information, plagiarism, and blackmailing.

In the past, platforms have been punished for publishing content that was deemed to be unsuitable and misleading, including LinkedIn itself in March for failing to control political content. The platform was ordered to perform a self-evaluation and suspend new sign-ups of users inside China for 30 days, according to the New York Times.

Social media laws were strict before the February update, with LinkedIn blocking access to human rights activist Zhou Fengsuo's profile page in China in January 2019. The company told Zhou he had been censored in accordance with the company's commitment to adhering to the requirements of the Chinese government.

LinkedIn, the last major US social media company to have operated in China, maintained that it supports freedom of expression, but hoped to sustain its links with the Chinese market through the launch of InJobs.

“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,” said Mohak Shroff, senior vice-president of engineering at LinkedIn. “We’re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”

Strict laws haven't dissuaded Microsoft from further investing in the region, however. In May, Chinese digital retail firm Hanshow announced it would use Microsoft’s technology to expand around the world, undergo digital transformation, and produce new cloud-based software for its clients. Hanshow was set to adopt Microsoft Azure and create cloud-based products using the tech giant’s machine learning, IoT, and data technology.

The following month, the company announced it would add four new data centres in China by early 2022, to expand its service capacity across the region. Microsoft, which already has six data centres in the country, wanted to take advantage of the global surge in demand for internet service during the pandemic. Its expansion in China is considered to be among the fastest for the company on the continent.

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