Microsoft is officially pulling the plug on LinkedIn for China, as the company aims to meet “great compliance requirements” in the East Asian country with a new job listing app.
Western social media companies and China have never been a great mix, with a wide range of regulations getting in the way of the industry's admittedly unregulated way of doing things. Most have even been banned from general use in the country.
Microsoft is the latest company to be forced to make changes, with plans to shut down LinkedIn in favor of a non-social media-focused option announced today.
Microsoft to Shut Down LinkedIn in China
Announced in a company blog post, LinkedIn and Microsoft explained that the social features on LinkedIn were simply not worth the hassle in the heavily-regulated Asian country.
“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. We’re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”
Chinese job searchers won't be without some help though. LinkedIn plans to launch a new job listing site, dubbed InJobs, that will exclusively help users to find jobs. There will be no social media features involved with the platform, which will ideally allow the site to exist without any issues.
Why is Microsoft shutting down LinkedIn in China now?
Facebook and Twitter haven't been operable in China since 2009 and Google moved its search operations from mainland China to Hong Kong in 2010, so why is Microsoft feeling the need to move now?
It's no secret China has been adding regulation after regulation to curb the questionable practices and effects of social media. It could be that those regulations finally caught up to Microsoft and LinkedIn, leading to the decision.
Odds are though, this move came due to a Wall Street Journal report, which found out that scholars were being blocked from LinkedIn in China without explanation. While Microsoft did not directly address the report, it's safe to assume that the timing is anything but a coincidence.
How to Get Around National Bans
We're not suggesting you do anything illegal, of course. However, there is one way to get around national bans of apps that is legal, depending on where you use them: VPNs.
VPNs are designed to hide and move your geolocation, so you can use apps, services, and platforms that are only or uniquely available in certain countries. This is often used to watch varied catalogs of streaming platforms like Netflix, but could also be used for LinkedIn in China, although there are some vaguely strict laws on the matter.
The additional benefit of VPNs is security. The best VPNs will allow you to log in from anywhere without allowing anyone to see your data. Companies with employees going remote in the pandemic can also benefit, ensuring company data isn't being accessed on unsecured networks.