LinkedIn shrugs off censorship criticism

LinkedIn shrugs off censorship criticism

BEIJING - LinkedIn, the business-oriented social networking service, decided last year to enter a market that has stumped many other Western technology companies -- China. The US company launch a version of its website in simplified Chinese characters and hired an Internet-industry veteran as its first China president to try and reach the market's estimated 140 million professionals.

Controversially, it also agreed to censor any user posts deemed sensitive by the authorities in Beijing. The company insists this much-criticised move is necessary for securing a foothold and building up scale in the world's most populous country -- a market it hopes will help halt the slide in its membership growth. In 2012, LinkedIn's membership grew by 39 per cent on the year. Two years later, the expansion slowed to 25 per cent.

Where the growth is

There are now 8 million LinkedIn members from mainland China, double the number before the arrival of the Chinese website. The country is now the second-largest source of new members after the US

This kind of scale has helped LinkedIn win about 200 local corporate customers for its hiring and marketing services, but it still is not generating much revenue in mainland China. The company does not provide a country-specific breakdown of its revenue, but Asia accounted for only 8 per cent of its total revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from 9 per cent the previous quarter.

As a result, the company is trying to come up with more China-specific products for this heavily regulated and fiercely competitive market.

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