LinkedIn in China: Censorship policy change?

When LinkedIn announced earlier this year that it was starting a Chinese-language networking website, it seemed — at least from the outside — that it did so without the issues that other U.S. tech companies usually deal with when doing business in China. But it was criticized for basically accepting censorship as inevitable in China. Now it appears to be rethinking things.

“We are strongly considering changing our policy so that content from our Chinese members that is not allowed in China will still be viewed globally,” Hani Durzy, a spokesman for the Mountain View-based company, told Bloomberg, although it’s not clear what has prompted the rethink. Currently, LinkedIn censors posts that aren’t in line with the Chinese government’s rules, both inside and outside China. Bloomberg points out that other tech companies, such as Twitter, remove content when legally compelled to do so only in the countries that require it.

As we’ve written time and again, U.S. tech companies have to tread carefully in tightly controlled China. Google effectively pulled out of China’s search market. Facebook and Twitter are not officially allowed in that country except for in Shanghai’s free-trade zone. But being a professional networking site (and maybe perceived as less threatening to the Chinese government’s interests), LinkedIn has had a presence in China for a while — it just expanded with a Chinese-language website this year.

 

Photo of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4032 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).