LinkedIn, the professional social network owned by Microsoft, has temporarily blocked new member sign-ups for its service in China. The company said in a statement that this move would help to ensure if the social networking platform is in “compliance with local law.”
“While we remain focused on our goal of creating economic opportunity for our members in China, we're temporarily pausing new member sign-ups for LinkedIn China as we work to ensure we remain in compliance with local law. We’re a global platform with an obligation to respect the laws that apply to us, including adhering to Chinese government regulations for our localized version of LinkedIn in China,” the company said on Tuesday.
It is important to note that the suspension of new accounts began almost a week after Microsoft confirmed an attack on its Exchange email service. The firm blamed China for the attack, claiming it was a “state-sponsored threat actor” called Hafnium. However, LinkedIn denied in its statement that the move is related to it but didn’t confirm when the new registrations would resume.
According to a report from Bloomberg, this decision was made under pressure by the Chinese government, which indicates "displeasure over Microsoft blaming the country for the attack."
“There could be compliance issues in how they’re registering people, but I haven’t seen any reporting in the Chinese press to suggest that there was something coming down the pike.” Bloomberg wrote.
LinkedIn started its operations in China back in 2014 after the company reportedly agreed to comply with the Chinese government's strict censorship laws. It’s one of the few US-based services currently accessible in the country, with over 50 million users. The firewall built by the Chinese government currently blocks almost all the popular social networks, and the list includes Instagram, Facebook, Clubhouse, and Twitter.
The Chinese government has been working to develop its own social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo. Interestingly, it has even developed its own professional networking platform Maimai, which is currently one of the biggest competitors of LinkedIn in the country.