Nearly seven years after its introduction, Microsoft Corp. is shutting down LinkedIn in China, signalling the end of the last major US-owned social network in the country as Chinese authorities tighten their grip on the internet.
LinkedIn announced in a blog post on Thursday that the platform would be replaced later this year with a stripped-down version named “InJobs” that would focus solely on employment and would not contain a social feed or share options.
“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,” LinkedIn said.
“We`re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”
LinkedIn’s efforts in China have been widely scrutinised as a model for how a Western social media programme may operate within the country’s heavily regulated internet, where many other platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, are prohibited.
In 2014, the platform moved into China, noting that it would have to censor some of the content users posted on its website in order to comply with Chinese regulations.
It was one of the companies targeted by Beijing’s wide-reaching campaign over the past year, which has imposed new restrictions on its internet companies in areas ranging from content to consumer privacy. The Chinese government has also stated that it wants platforms to promote key communist ideas more actively.
LinkedIn suspended new sign-ups in China in March, citing a desire to comply with Chinese regulations. It was one of 105 apps accused by China’s top internet regulator of illegally gathering and utilising personal information and required to make corrections two months later.
Last month, the news website Axios claimed that LinkedIn had removed many US journalists and academics’ profiles from its Chinese platform because they contained material China considers sensitive, citing “prohibited content.”
Bing, the only major international search engine accessible from within China’s so-called Great Firewall, is also owned by Microsoft, and its search results on sensitive issues are blocked.