LinkedIn to shut down China version, citing country's compliance demands

LinkedIn plans to offer a jobs-only feed later this year without social or sharing aspects.
Written by Tiernan Ray, Senior Contributing Writer

After seven years of operating a localized version of its service in the People's Republic of China, LinkedIn said on Thursday morning that it will be shutting down the dedicated version of the site, citing challenges of keeping up with the countries demands upon how the site is operated. 

"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," wrote the LinkedIn senior vice president of engineering Mohak Shroff, in a company blog post.

"We're also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China," wrote Shroff. "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."

Instead, wrote Shroff, LinkedIn will offer a jobs-only feed, called InJobs, later this year, which "will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles."

Shroff said the scaled-down approach "aligns with our commitment to creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce."

When LinkedIn announced the site in 2014, offered in Simplified Chinese, the company defended its decision as "the right one" despite issues of censorship:

Expanding our presence in China presents a challenge that our company must address directly, clearly and in a manner consistent with our core values. As a condition for operating in the country, the government of China imposes censorship requirements on Internet platforms. LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship. At the same time, we also believe that LinkedIn's absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform, thereby limiting the ability of individual Chinese citizens to pursue and realize the economic opportunities, dreams and rights most important to them. 

As we weighed our options in China over the last several years, we sought input from many experts, including business leaders, policymakers, global human rights organizations, and China analysts. Their counsel was highly valuable as we charted our course. Over this same period, we also discussed and debated our China strategy internally in an extensive series of meetings that included every member of our senior management team. 

Extending our service in China raises difficult questions, but it is clear to us that the decision to proceed is the right one. We believe that individuals in the United States, China, and beyond will benefit substantially from Chinese professionals connecting with each other and LinkedIn members in other parts of the world.

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