Sep 30, 2021 - World

First look: Rick Scott probes LinkedIn, Microsoft on censoring U.S. journalists in China

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) speaking during a committee hearing on Sept. 28.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) speaking during a committee hearing on Sept. 28. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Microsoft and LinkedIn leadership on Thursday questioning why LinkedIn censored the profiles of U.S. journalists from the company's China-based platform this week, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: LinkedIn — which is owned by Microsoft — notified several U.S. journalists this week, including Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, that their accounts will no longer be viewable in China due to "prohibited content" on their profile.

  • In addition to Allen-Ebrahimian, affected journalists include VICE News' Melissa Chan and freelance reporter Greg Bruno. All three have reported on human rights abuses in China.

What they're saying: "I am deeply concerned that an American company is actively censoring American journalists on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party," Scott said in the letter addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky.

  • "Members of the media report information that is critical to helping Americans, including members of Congress, understand the scope of Communist China’s abuses, especially its abuses against and surveillance of Uyghurs in Xinjiang," the senator continued.
  • "The censorship of these journalists raises serious questions about Microsoft’s intentions and its commitment to standing up against Communist China’s horrific human rights abuses and repeated attacks against democracy."

Previously, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) sent a letter to LinkedIn, criticizing blocks of several profiles and asking if LinkedIn had ever handed over American user data to the Chinese government.

The big picture: LinkedIn is one of the few American social media platforms to agree to the Chinese government's demands to censor content that it views as subversive.

  • The LinkedIn profiles of numerous academics, researchers, government employees, and others around the world have also been censored in recent months.

Read the letter:

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