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Article

12 May 2021

Author:
Ryan Gallagher, Bloomberg

Prominent critic of China based in UK accuses Microsoft’s LinkedIn of censorship

"Microsoft’s LinkedIn Accused by Noted China Critic of Censorship", 12 May 2021

A prominent critic of China based in the U.K. said Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn froze his account and removed content criticizing the country’s government, the latest in a series of allegations that the networking website had censored users -- even outside of the Asian nation -- to appease authorities in Beijing.

Peter Humphrey, a British corporate investigator and former journalist who accesses LinkedIn from his home in Surrey, England, said he received notification from LinkedIn last month that comments he had published on the platform had been removed. The comments, seen by Bloomberg News, called the Chinese government a “repressive dictatorship” and criticized the country’s state media organizations as “propaganda mouthpieces.”

... On April 26... [w]hen Humphrey tried to log in, he said he was met with a message stating his profile had been “restricted” due to “behavior that appears to violate our Terms of Service.”

After Bloomberg News contacted LinkedIn for comment last week, the company reinstated Humphrey’s account and restored some of his comments, including those listed above. Others were not. “Our team has reviewed the action, based on our appeals process, and found it was an error,” said Leonna Spilman, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn. Spilman declined to comment further regarding Humphrey’s account.

The Chinese government’s foreign ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment.

[LinkedIn] remains the only U.S. social media network allowed to operate in the country, but it complies with the Chinese government’s restrictions on certain kinds of content for users in China. The company doesn’t specify what content it restricts.

... LinkedIn said in March that it was pausing new member sign-ups for LinkedIn users in China as it worked to “ensure we remain in compliance with local law.” Earlier that month, China’s internet regulator reprimanded LinkedIn executives for failing to control political content, according to the New York Times.

An employee at Human Rights Watch who isn’t based in China said her account was suspended in February from the Chinese version of the website for “prohibited content.”... Spilman, the LinkedIn spokeswoman, defended the company’s decision to block the Human Rights Watch employee’s profile from view in China.

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