LinkedIn may loosen its Chinese censorship policies

The social network's Chinese website blocks objectionable content globally -- a policy the company says it is "strongly considering changing."

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LinkedIn

LinkedIn is weighing a change to its censorship policy in China that could free up more content for the rest of the world, according to Bloomberg.

The company currently blocks content on its Chinese website considered taboo by the government. But that content is blocked not only in China but worldwide, preventing Chinese users from sharing information outside the country. Now LinkedIn is considering a revision that would allow such content to be seen globally, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

LinkedIn spokesman Doug Madey sent this statement to CNET: "We can confirm that LinkedIn is strongly considering changing our policy so that content from our Chinese members that is not allowed in China will still be viewed globally. Beyond that, nothing to add at this time."

Since launching a site in China in February, LinkedIn has run into the same challenges faced by other US companies that want to do business there. The Chinese government imposes strict censorship rules on what content can be seen by its citizens. Companies that want to take advantage of the large, lucrative Chinese market must abide by such rules.

Announcing the Chinese deal in February, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner laid out the following ground rules for how it would handle itself there:

  • Government restrictions on content will be implemented only when and to the extent required.
  • LinkedIn will be transparent about how it conducts business in China and will use multiple avenues to notify members about [its] practices.
  • The company will undertake extensive measures to protect the rights and data of [its] members.

In June, LinkedIn faced its first major test when it was criticized for blocking certain content related to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Responding to a request from the news site China Real Time, LinkedIn spokesman Roger Pua said at the time that the company is "strongly in support of freedom of expression....[but] it's clear to us that in order to create value for our members in China and around the world, we will need to implement the Chinese government's restrictions on content, when and to the extent required."

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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