LinkedIn blocks some Chinese reviews on the eve of Tiananmen’s anniversary, including Epoch Times staff


LinkedIn censors some critics of China, including some Epoch Times staff, by removing their presence in China.

On the morning of June 3, a number of people within The Epoch Times network, including staff members based in the United States, Sweden and Turkey, received notifications alerting them to the decision.

The post, titled “Official LinkedIn Member Safety and Recovery Post,” began by thanking users for “using your LinkedIn profile to represent you professionally.”

“We would like to inform you that due to legal requirements affecting the accessibility in China of some publishing organizations, your profile and activity, such as items you share with your network, are not visible. for those accessing LinkedIn from China at the moment. “, did he declare. He added that the profile and activity “remain visible in the rest of the world where LinkedIn is available.”

The exact number of people impacted on The Epoch Times network remains uncertain.

In a statement to The Epoch Times, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn said the company “is a global platform with an obligation to comply with the laws that apply to us, including Chinese government regulations for our version. located from LinkedIn in China “.

“Due to local legal requirements in China, the profiles and activity of certain LinkedIn members associated with certain publishing organizations are not visible in China at this time,” the company said.

A redacted LinkedIn message received by Epoch Times employees on June 3, 2021 (Screenshot via LinkedIn)

Two days earlier, LinkedIn took similar action against Chinese critic J Michael Cole. In a similar but more elaborate version of the post, they offered to work with Cole to “minimize the impact” and said they “may review the accessibility of your profile in China if you update the Publishing section of your profile “.

The blockade came on the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a bloody crackdown that saw the Chinese regime open fire on activists calling for democratic and economic reforms in China, killing hundreds, if not thousands. of them.

The Epoch Times is one of a series of international sites that remain inaccessible to users inside the Great Firewall, the live site. censorship machine that allows the regime to filter out unwanted voices.

The publication was at the forefront covering topics related to China, such as the CCP’s infiltration in the West, human rights violations, organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China, and the bursting of the PCC virus in Wuhan.

LinkedIn, which launched a Simplified Chinese site in 2014, is one of the few Western social media platforms still allowed in mainland China by accepting Chinese restrictions. It currently has 53 million users in mainland China.

LinkedIn did not respond to questions about the rationale behind its decision and the specific local requirements it was referring to. He also wouldn’t say if he had similar agreements with other nations. Instead, the company pointed out a February 24, 2014 declaration of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, justifying the company’s expansion into China.

While Weiner said “LinkedIn strongly supports free speech and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship,” they decided to adhere to state censorship rules because LinkedIn’s absence in China would limit “The ability of Chinese citizens to pursue and realize the economic opportunities, dreams and rights most important to them.

“Freedom of speech and opposition to censorship are incompatible with Chinese regulations,” said Benjamin Weingarten, a member of the California think tank Claremont Institute and contributor to The Epoch Times, who received the LinkedIn post.

“Chinese regulation, that is, the rule of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said, “ultimately stifles economic opportunities, erases dreams and violates the rights of Chinese citizens.”

Noting the timing of the LinkedIn action, Weingarten mentionned it was “incredible, but totally believable”.

“On the eve of the Tiananmen Square massacre – a topic that has been censored on Chinese social media and removed from Chinese textbooks – it is clear that the West has taken all the wrong lessons,” he told Epoch Times in an email.

“The testimony of the CCP leaders at the time shows that they believed that our perceived personal interest in doing business with China would cause us to look away from the tyranny of the regime. Creepy artists, censored platforms and prostrate businesses have unfortunately proven he was right, ”he wrote.

Over the years, LinkedIn has drawn attention to a number of censorship moves, including the erasure posts on the Tiananmen protests, blocking the account of a leader of the protest, and more recently, the suspension of a criticism of chinaafter deleting his comments which qualified Beijing as a “repressive dictatorship”.

On March 9, LinkedIn “temporarily” prevented Chinese users from registering new accounts in the country, again citing Chinese laws not specified.

Company advertising Politics also includes language prohibiting any advertising containing “criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Liberation Army, excerpts from the [Chinese] national anthem ”, all the promotions of a virtual private network – a tool that would allow users to bypass censorship – or those related to satellite services.

Cédric Alviani, director of the East Asia office of Reporters Without Borders, told The Epoch Times that “Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounces the pressure exerted by the Chinese regime on social platforms like LinkedIn to force them to [to] contribute to its censorship campaigns.

RSF ranked China 177th out of 180 in its 2021 World Press Freedom Index, calling him “the world’s greatest press freedom defenders jailer.”

“It is true that everyone would benefit greatly if the Chinese were connected with others across the world on a platform that focuses on learning and sharing. But that’s not what LinkedIn is, ”said a co-founder of the anti-censorship group, which goes by the pseudonym Charles Smith.

“LinkedIn is a sanitized, harmonized and uninspiring job site. The last thing the platform values ​​is freedom of speech, “he said, adding that” Microsoft rewards users who are afraid to speak up, who avoid asking tough questions and who bypass them. sensitive issues “.

The Epoch Times reached out to Microsoft for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

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