LinkedIn is blocking the viewing of profiles within China if they mention politically sensitive topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, including benign references to academic studies.
In recent weeks, the professional networking site has written to various analysts from China, alerting them to “prohibited content” on their profile pages.
He told Swedish writer and photographer Jojje Olsson by email that a reference in his education section meant that his profile, comments and posts “would not be visible in China.”
Olsson said his education section included a mention of a line from his university thesis on the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
The LinkedIn email, which Olsson posted on Twitter, said the company would work with him “to minimize the impact and … review the accessibility of his profile within China if he updates the education section of his profile.”
He said it was Olsson’s decision to update it or not.
“The censorship of my profile is not due to any post or comment I made, but to the subject of my graduation essay over a decade ago,” Olsson told The Guardian.
“I think LinkedIn is really reckless with its own credibility when, as a professional networking site, it is censoring the education of its users.”
J Michael Cole, an academic, also revealed earlier this month that his account was being removed from view in China for prohibited content in the posts section of his profile.
Cole, a senior fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington DC and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said he suspected it was related to the listed titles of the books he had authored or co-authored, which include How China Undermines Global Democracy; Cross-Strait Relationships Since 2016: The End of Illusion; and Convergence or Conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
Cole said he had not sought an explanation or revocation, and that LinkedIn’s offer to edit his profile to make it compliant was “a non-choice, and nothing less than an invitation to self-censorship.”
“I don’t know at this point if this is LinkedIn’s own initiative or the result of closer scrutiny by the CCP. [Chinese Communist party]Cole said.
“Either way, this occurs in the context of an increasingly paranoid CCP that seems determined to further strengthen its ability to control what people in China can see and access. At a time when the world should seek more dialogue, China is closing the door on that possibility. “
LinkedIn is one of the few Western social media platforms that can operate within China. Internet and technology companies are heavily regulated in the country and censorship is very common under the increasingly authoritarian government of Xi Jinping. The Tiananmen massacre and other issues that are particularly sensitive are censored from public knowledge.
When LinkedIn launched in China in 2014, the company said government-imposed censorship was a condition for operating. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, promised to implement government restrictions only “when and to the extent required,” and that the company would be transparent about its business operations. That same year, LinkedIn faced criticism for censoring posts about the massacre.
In March, the New York Times reported on Chinese regulators punish LinkedIn for alleged failures in the control of political content. The company was reportedly required to suspend new Chinese user registrations for 30 days and conduct a self-assessment.
At the time, LinkedIn issued a statement confirming that it was temporarily pausing new registrations while it was running “to ensure that we continue to comply with local law.”
“We are a global platform with an obligation to abide by the laws that apply to us, including adhering to Chinese government regulations for our localized version of LinkedIn in China,” he said.
LinkedIn has been contacted regarding profile blocks. Thursday gave Business Insider an answerreflecting Weiner’s comments in 2014. “It is clear to us that to create value for our members in China and around the world, we will need to implement the Chinese government’s content restrictions, when and to the extent necessary,” he said. to publication.