Microsoft is shutting down LinkedIn in China, but is pushing forward InJobs as a replacement.  

Microsoft has announced its decision to shut down LinkedIn in China. This marks the end of one of America’s last remaining social platforms in the region. According to company officials, the move is driven by increased regulations and censorship.

Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, China has developed the world’s most restrictive internet infrastructure known as the “Great Firewall.” This system of legislative actions and technologies is used to block access to certain foreign websites and slow down cross-border internet traffic, and it has forced foreign companies to adapt to domestic regulations.

Over the last decade, numerous companies have fallen to the Great Firewall. Twitter and Facebook were blocked in 2009, and Google exited China in 2010. Google’s follow-up platform Project Dragonfly was also officially abandoned in 2019.   

Image from 2019 BBC news report.

Given this trend, LinkedIn’s demise may have been inevitable. However, when it entered the Chinese market in 2014, some thought it had found the key to success. Not only was LinkedIn willing to sacrifice Western ideals of free speech – it even went as far as censoring activists, academics and journalist’s profiles – the company also relinquished 7 percent of its local operations to two well-connected Chinese venture capital firms.

In 2014, Hani Durzy, a spokesman for LinkedIn, stated that the company had a “belief that the creation of economic opportunity can have a profound impact on the lives of Chinese individuals, much as it has elsewhere in the world.”

“While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China. So, the decision to proceed in China was one that we weighed heavily.”

Hani Durzy, LinkedIn representative

Despite its setbacks with LinkedIn, Microsoft has not abandoned the Chinese market. It is set to replace LinkedIn with “InJobs” later this year. This new site will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles, the company said. 

“Our new strategy for China is to put our focus on helping China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates,” wrote Senior Vice President of Engineering at LinkedIn, Mohak Shroff, in a blog.

Mohak Shroff speaks about building diverse teams in a 2019 interview.

“This decision [to launch InJobs] aligns with our commitment to creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. While that has been our vision for nearly two decades now, it feels more important than ever as we all strive to build a global economy that delivers more prosperity and progress to people all over the world.”

Mohak Shroff writes about the decision to replace LinkedIn with InJobs.

Whether this vision will be achieved is yet to be seen. In the meantime, LinkedIn’s exit, combined with even harsher data restrictions coming out of Beijing, has led some analysts to believe that more companies might decide to slash down their operations in the region increasing the divide between China and the rest of the world.

Post by: CJ Fisher

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