LinkedIn runs foul of new regulations in China

12 Nov 2017

LinkedIn China, regional affiliate of the Microsoft-owned, business network and job site, removed its job-posting function for individuals, after it was informed that it was contravening new regulations requiring recruitment platforms to verify identities, before taking listings live. 

The regulations in question were instituted after the death of university graduate Li Wenxing earlier this year. Li had responded to a fake job posting on the job site Boss Zhipin (BOSS 直聘), which led to him entering the underground world of multi-level marketing (pyramid schemes).

In August, state regulators launched a crackdown on fake job postings, requiring companies to institute pre-posting checks on identities and business licenses. A centralized system was put in place for auditing the sector.

Violators of the regulations have previously been threatened with having their licenses to provide “human resources services” revoked, although it appears that LinkedIn China will not face such action.

LinkedIn China has continued to operate in the country largely by capitulating to the demands of the Chinese government. This includes restricting topics of conversation and free association between Chinese users on the platform.  

LinkedIn’s operations in China have been disappointing in terms of penetration. LinkedIn has garnered 32 million users based in China, well below expectations, pegged at over 140 million at the time of its launch in 2014. LinkedIn China employs 1,200 people. The company’s Chinese-language sub-platform Chitu has fared even worse by most estimates.

The platform is going up against domestic social networking sites, such as Mai Mai (脉脉), the Chinese social network for business people, which has more than 30 million users.

LinkedIn China president Derek Shen resigned from his post in June.

(Original reporting from The New York Times).

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Tom Marling

Tom is a PhD candidate in Chinese History at Hong Kong Baptist University, and former PR consultant in Mainland China. He joined the AIM Group in 2016 as a writer/analyst.