LinkedIn launches in China

The professional social network is targeting a new territory, despite the likelihood of government censorship.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of professional network LinkedIn, announced Monday that his company has released a version of the service in simplified Chinese, making it one of the largest American social networks to target a country known for its censorship of Internet services.

"The new simplified Chinese website will broaden our reach to the country's more than 140 million professionals who currently represent roughly one in five of the world's knowledge workers," Weiner wrote in an article posted to the LinkedIn Web site.

Weiner, however, didn't ignore the elephant in the room: the Chinese government. The company, he said, knows that it will need to comply with government requirements to remain operational, and that it did not take that decision lightly.

"Extending our service in China raises difficult questions, but it is clear to us that the decision to proceed is the right one," Weiner said.

Though it's not completely clear how LinkedIn will enforce government-imposed restrictions, Weiner promised three things: to implement restrictions on content only when required, to be transparent in its dealings with China, and to protect the rights and data of members.

LinkedIn currently touts 277 million members and seeks to connect professionals everywhere. "We believe that individuals in the United States, China, and beyond will benefit substantially from Chinese professionals connecting with each other and LinkedIn members in other parts of the world."

Still, the move is bound to create a few waves in Silicon Valley, where censorship is a touchy subject. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and many other Internet services remain blocked in mainland China. Earlier Monday, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg noted at Mobile World Congress that China remains a challenge and suggested that the social network may not even be able to infiltrate the populous region with its Internet.org initiative.

 

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