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LinkedIn Censoring Posts About Tiananmen Square, Even Outside China

linkedin

In a sign of China’s growing international clout and Western corporations’ growing willingness to play by Beijing’s rules, the popular business networking site LinkedIn is blocking content relating to the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary.

The Guardian reports LinkedIn is censoring posts about the deadly 1989 crackdown as the world marks the 25th anniversary of the slaughter that left hundreds of protesters dead.

Not only is LinkedIn blocking Tiananmen-related posts inside China in compliance with Beijing’s strict censorship laws, the California-based company is also preventing people around the world from viewing material that violates Chinese censorship laws if it was first posted in China.

The Daily Beast reports Andrew Work, CEO of the Hong Kong political newspaper Harbor Times, attempted to post a column reflecting upon the 1989 tragedy on LinkedIn. His post was blocked and he received the following response:

LinkedIn determined that recent public activity you posted… contained content prohibited in China. As a result, this content will not be seen by LinkedIn members.

Although Hong Kong has been part of China since 1997, it is governed under a “one country, two systems” policy that allows for free expression and a free press.

Quartz reports British artist Helen Couchman experienced LinkedIn censorship when the company deleted her post linking to an article about the imprisonment of her friend, the Chinese-Australian artist Guo Jian.

Couchman expressed her disappointment in this tweet:

Helen Couchman

Roger Pua, LinkedIn’s director of corporate communications in the Asia-Pacific region, told the Guardian that the company supports freedom of expression. But he added that “to create value for our members in China and around the world, we will need to implement the Chinese government’s restrictions on content.”

He added that “LinkedIn, by its nature, is a professional network and not prone to conversations that are political in nature.”

“We think the impact is very, very small,” Pua said of the company’s compliance with the often brutal totalitarian regime’s censorship mandates.

LinkedIn is not the only US firm to bow to Chinese censorship demands. In 2010, Google, which is also based in Mountain View, California, drew international condemnation after it agreed to self-censor in order to comply with Chinese rules. The company eventually decided to shut down its mainland search engine and re-direct traffic to Hong Kong.

Microsoft, which operates the Bing search engine, has also been accused of censoring Chinese language information seen by users in the United States.

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