Oct 14, 2021 - Economy

LinkedIn announces new app to avoid China scrutiny

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

LinkedIn is finding ways to stay in China despite increased censorship pressure from the country's government to limit social posts and news sharing.

Why it matters: LinkedIn's new toehold solution protects its main brand while operating under similar amounts of local scrutiny. 

  • If successful, InJobs could set a precedent for newer social platforms looking to do business in China (without the kind of political baggage that Twitter and Facebook have), says Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.

Catch up quick: The company announced Thursday that its new jobs posting app, InJobs, would launch later this year to replace its local LinkedIn service amid "greater compliance requirements" in the country.

Backdrop: For the past seven years, LinkedIn has abided by censorship rules and allowed its platform to be owned by Chinese nationals — a model Beijing once touted as one that other internet businesses could follow if they wanted the same kind of market access.

  • It’s unclear if InJobs will operate the same way. But because the new app will be stripped of social features (feeds, sharing, posts), it will likely face fewer content restrictions. 
  • Yes, but: Similar criticisms over censorship will also likely remain.

What they’re saying: "[W]e will continue to have a strong presence in China to drive our new strategy," a LinkedIn spokesperson tells Axios.

The intrigue: Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn, makes less than 2% of its revenue from its business in China, and LinkedIn has intense competition with other job apps in the country.

  • "China represents a large market with a lot of revenue potential, if only Microsoft can find a better means of capturing that revenue," Sara Hsu, visiting scholar at Fudan University, tells Axios.
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