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LinkedIn scholars are blocked in China “without telling why”

Singapore — Oxford University PhD student Eyck Freymann was surprised to receive a notification from LinkedIn this month that his account was blocked in China. He was informed that the “Experience” section of his profile detailing his career contained “banned” content.

Social networking site owned by

Microsoft Co., Ltd.

He didn’t explain further, but said he thought it was because he included the word “Tiananmen Square” in his two-year mission entry as a research assistant in the book in 2015.

“LinkedIn pulls people’s resources out for no reason,” he said. “I was surprised because I am a graduate student. I didn’t think I would be a problem.”

Academic is one of the LinkedIn users whose profiles have been blocked in the last few weeks. The Wall Street Journal has 10 other researchers, journalists, US parliamentarians, Beijing-based editors, and others whose profiles have been blocked or removed from the Chinese version of LinkedIn since May. We have identified the above individuals.Report about Elephants rampaging all over China..

A LinkedIn spokeswoman said in a statement that the company supports freedom of expression, but offering a localized version of LinkedIn in China means complying with the Chinese government’s censorship requirements on Internet platforms. Stated. The company did not comment on whether the action was aggressive or in response to a request from Chinese authorities.

LinkedIn Made a trade-off Accepting Chinese censorship when it broke into China in 2014, censoring human rights activists and removing content that focused on posts that were considered confidential by the Chinese government. Recent drugnets stand out by catching multiple scholars along the way, resulting in the removal of the entire profile rather than individual posts.

This action highlights challenges for foreign companies in China. Accept the demands of the Chinese government or risk being locked out of a huge market. However, implementing Chinese censorship also carries the risk of backlash from Western users and politicians who see companies participating in curbing freedom of speech.

LinkedIn said it received 42 requests from Chinese authorities last year to remove the most global content.


Photo:

Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images

Chinese internet regulators summoned LinkedIn officials in March to instruct them to better regulate their content, according to people familiar with the matter. People said social networking sites were given 30 days to clean up their content and promised to better regulate their sites in the future.

Shortly thereafter, LinkedIn said in a statement on its website that it would suspend new member registration as the platform worked “to ensure that it continued to comply with local laws.”

LinkedIn received 42 requests from Chinese authorities to remove content last year, according to a semi-annual transparency report. This is the most received by the company from any country. It took 38. It hasn’t announced a more recent number.

According to a LinkedIn notice, if a blocked user updates “banned content,” the decision will be revoked, but it’s not told what it is.

“It’s amazing to see LinkedIn comply with Chinese authorities’ censorship policies without being able to justify their actions against users,” said Berlin Freedom, which was blocked on June 17. University professor Tony C. Lee said.

The LinkedIn message listed the offending content in the “Publications” section of his profile. This section hasn’t been updated by him for over a year. Details were not disclosed, but Dr. Lee, who studies political psychology and modern China, two of the papers wrote about the leadership of China (one of which compared the current Xi Jinping president and Mao Zedong) is I suspect that it may have led to the obstruction.

When the journal searched for the terms “Tiananmen,” “Uighur Forced Labor,” or “Hong Kong National Security Law,” only a handful or far fewer Chinese members were searched on LinkedIn.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine, also available in China, has since been controversial this month. Blocked the iconic “Tank Man” image It is related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident for users in China as well as in the United States. The company accused “accidental human error” and restored the image.

LinkedIn has more than 750 million members worldwide and is the only major Western social media company to operate freely in China.Peers such as

twitter

And

Facebook

You will not be able to access it unless you have software that impersonates your location.

Chinese researchers and scholars say that this censorship enhancement is Strengthen control of China’s internet and public opinion Under Mr. Nishi. Stephen Nagy, a scholar at International Christian University in Tokyo, said the ruling Communist Party will celebrate its 100th anniversary next week and Beijing is cracking down on all sorts of information that deviates from official explanations. Nagy’s profile was hidden in China this month by LinkedIn, citing banned content.

PhD student Flyman said on Tuesday that the journal received a reply to a request for more information after asking LinkedIn about its actions. Forbidden exact words.

Roie Yellinek, a scholar at the BESA Strategic Research Center in Israel, also had to speculate why it was blocked on June 7. Dr. Yellinek, who studies China’s soft power and influence in the Jerusalem-based Middle East, wrote in Hebrew about China’s efforts to shape the country’s public image in Israel.

“Chinese authorities are trying to send a very clear message,’We are watching over you, don’t ruin us,'” said Dr. Yellow.

Write to Lizarin Liza.Lin@wsj.com

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LinkedIn scholars are blocked in China “without telling why”

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