China Warns Microsoft That LinkedIn Isn't Suppressing Enough Voices

from the now-that's-censorship dept

As a bunch of US lawmakers keep threatening new laws that would force websites to remove more content, we should note just how much such moves reflect what is happening in China. The NY Times reports that Microsoft is in hot water in China, because LinkedIn apparently has been too slow to block content that displeases the Chinese government. As the article notes, LinkedIn is the one major US social network that is allowed in China -- but only if it follows China's Great Firewall censorship rules.

If you're not familiar with how that works, it's not that the government tells you what to take down -- it's just that the government makes it clear that if you let something through that you shouldn't, you're going to hear about it, and risk punishment. And it appears that's exactly what's happened to Microsoft:

China’s internet regulator rebuked LinkedIn executives this month for failing to control political content, according to three people briefed on the matter. Though it isn’t clear precisely what material got the company into trouble, the regulator said it had found objectionable posts circulating in the period around an annual meeting of China’s lawmakers, said these people, who asked for anonymity because the issue isn’t public.

As a punishment, the people said, officials are requiring LinkedIn to perform a self-evaluation and offer a report to the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s internet regulator. The service was also forced to suspend new sign-ups of users inside China for 30 days, one of the people added, though that period could change depending on the administration’s judgment.

Or, Microsoft/LinkedIn could do the right thing and tell the Chinese government "sorry," and just stop doing business in China. The NY Times article even notes that LinkedIn doesn't even get that much usage in China. So why bother with this hassle in a way that makes the company look so bad?

Also, I'll just note the grand irony of Microsoft doing this just a week or so after Microsoft's President Brad Smith testified before Congress on how "technology companies" must support "democracy." Of course, in that context, Smith was just doing it to attack Google and the open web. But, hey, as long as it can get money from China, apparently all that "democracy" stuff isn't so important to Microsoft any more.

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Filed Under: censorship, china, great firewall, social media
Companies: linkedin, microsoft


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  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 19 Mar 2021 @ 11:09am

    Regulation and Balkanization

    Regulations can help creativity, freedom of expression, everyone is an author, but they can also be a dog: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Internet,_nobody_knows_you%27re_a_dog

    Regulations, acts, laws, etc. like US CDA §230 (which many TD writers have discussed in detail) help creativity, self-publishing, and it protects you even if you are a dog.

    Unfortunately censorship and control oriented governments like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and NOW THE UNITED STATES work hard on a daily basis to make the "network of interconnected networks" be the "network of firewalled networks" and worse yet "YOU, server host, YOU are responsible to ensure that no content makes it through our system.

    The Chinese were not the first and they won't be the last, and since regulations always flow down, like shit down a sewer (sans voter initiatives -- often gutted IF they are passed).

    If this was a Copia Institute post there would be questions for the reader on how to stop this very shitty incline. They say don't ask a question if you don't know the answer. They also say there's no such thing as a stupid question. They also say if you don't know, ask.

    It feels like the traffic stop where if you LOOK at the officer you're presumed guilty (of something) and if you DON'T LOOK at the officer you're just as guilty. Or at the airport, if you're NERVOUS at the TSA JBTs you're carrying contraband. If you're 100% COOL AND RELAXED you're carrying contraband.

    I'd love to see a win/win here, starting with keeping Sec 230 and maybe even adding it to it so that

    • Judges won't be hasty to remove protections Congress codified into law, and EXPLICITLY kept after the rest of the CDA was thankfully removed.
    • Add protections (like SLAPP equivalent and fee-shifting) so if a site is sued for protected UCG they can get a quick free dismissal and make their attorneys rich.

    Ehud

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2021 @ 7:52pm

    If you thought that FOMO, echo chambers, social pressure, superficial interactions, and inauthenticity were worth leaving Twitter and Facebook for... You haven't seen what it's like on LinkedIn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 20 Mar 2021 @ 7:19pm

    Hubris of the elected

    Sounds like what the US is doing with Facebook, Google et al, by demanding the removal of section 230 protections. Those that have been elected to govern in this country are jealous of Chinese control.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2021 @ 10:52pm

    it's all about control....

    don't worry sheeple! a china firewall will be coming to country near you......
    we can thank the copyright cartel for giving the world the idea of blocking things they don't like!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ehud Gavron (profile), 21 Mar 2021 @ 1:41am

      Re: it's all about control....

      don't worry sheeple!

      Don't worry, people who can't write at a third-grade level.

      a china firewall will be coming...

      I appreciate that for some people legalized drugs are a thing, but this is absurd.

      Learn to capitalize use a period (hint: looks like this ".") instead of an exclamation (hint: looks like this "!") and call your doctor in the morning letting him/her know you have ass-things coming out of your mouth.

      Night, Troll-eeple.

      E

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 4:35am

    Grammar and spelling police..

    Will be the first imprisoned in the new world order!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 6:34am

    "Yes, Sir.
    Coming, Sir.
    Right away, Sir."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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