BEIJING: Social networking firm LinkedIn announced Tuesday that it will close down its last service available in China, citing “fierce competition and a challenging macroeconomic climate”. Microsoft-owned LinkedIn was one of the few US technology companies to successfully operate a social media site in China, where the internet is heavily regulated and censored.
The company had introduced a unique domestic version of the career networking platform operated locally in order to comply. In 2021, new sign-ups for the LinkedIn app in mainland China were suspended by the firm, which referenced a “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China”.
Microsoft then replaced it with a simplified version called InCareer, which allowed local professionals to continue to find and apply for jobs as well as stay connected with their network.
“After careful consideration, we’ve made the decision to discontinue InCareer effective August 9, 2023,” the platform said in a statement on Tuesday. “Despite our initial progress, InCareer faced fierce competition and a challenging macroeconomic climate, which ultimately led us to the decision of discontinuing the service,” LinkedIn said.
An email from CEO Ryan Roslansky published online added that closing the China service would result in “a reduction of roles for 716 employees”. But a representative from the company told AFP that LinkedIn would “continue to have a presence” in the country by focusing on “assisting companies operating in China to hire, market, and train abroad”.
The US firm once achieved a rapid rise in China, benefiting from a culture of connections, or “guanxi”, in which one’s contacts and professional network are essential assets. However, LinkedIn has been marginalized in recent years as innovative local apps have surged in popularity. Most US internet giants—including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube—have long been blocked in China as they fail to comply with strict and often murky regulations.
Tech firms operating in the country are pressured to block unwanted content and topics considered politically sensitive in the name of social stability. LinkedIn has come under fire in recent years for removing the accounts of dissidents and erasing content on sensitive issues. — AFP