Some questions about LinkedIn, in China

LinkedIn’s China policies are under fire. The company “supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship”, according to a blog post by CEO Jeff Weiner on Feb. 24. Yet in the Middle Kingdom and beyond its borders, the social media network known as Ling Ying in Chinese has blocked some China-related posts. Users including the writer Rob Schmitz have made public LinkedIn messages confirming that certain China posts will not see the light of day because they contained “content prohibited in China”.

Many, many media groups are under pressure to censor China-related content for the China market, and some may even change their behaviour after entering the market. But LinkedIn’s policy appears to be particularly stringent, and the company has stated publically that it will consider reworking its practices, as reported by Bloomberg on Sept. 3.

China’s massive potential for growing an audience may be too good to resist, and compliance with the letter and spirit of the law can help to win and keep market share. Perhaps that explains LinkedIn’s strict policies. But I’m still struggling to understand why this company went so far, and wondering if others may be doing the same, for whatever reason.

If anyone can shed light on these issues — by sharing private messages from LinkedIn, or by recommending other relevant articles — I’d like to hear more.

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