Microsoft has recently gotten into hot water when the extent of cooperation with Chinese censorship campaigns became evident when they accidentally censored Bing Image Searches for the Tiananmen Square tankman worldwide instead of just for China.
Now another element of this self-censorship became apparent when cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont revealed Microsoft’s LinkedIn hid your profile from Chinese searchers if you mentioned Tiananmen Square in it.
OPSEC tip – if you don't want to be phished via people in China on LinkedIn, add "Tiananmen square" to your interests and your profile automatically becomes invisible in China after a few days.
— Kevin Beaumont (@GossiTheDog) July 3, 2021
Reportedly LinkedIn will send you a letter warning you of this action before you do this, allowing you to self-censor and remove this mention first.
The note reads:
Your Linkedin profile is an integral part of how you present your professional self to the world. That’s why we believe it’s important to inform you that due to the presence of prohibited content located in the Skills & endorsements section of your Linkedin profile, your profile and your public activity. such as your comments and items you share with your network, will not be made viewable in China. Your profile and activity continues to remain viewable throughout the rest of the countries in which Linkedin is available. We will work with you to minimize the impact and can review your profile’s accessibility within China if you update the Skills & endorsements section of your profile. But the decision whether to update your profile is yours.
In February 2014, we began offering a localized version of Linkedin in China. We believe that peoble everywhere can benefit from Chinese individuals connecting with each other and Linkedin members in other parts of the world, and that the creation of economic opportunity can have a profound impact on their lives and the lives of their families and communities.
While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China. As a reminder, your profile will remain viewable throughout the rest of the countries in which Linkedin is available.
While the note is somewhat apologetic, it clearly encourages the user to remove the content China finds objectionable.
LinkedIn executives were recently rebuked by Chinese internet censors for not doing enough to control political speech on the platform. Microsoft is however experiencing pressure at home from Republican legislators unhappy with Microsoft’s easy compliance with Chinese demands.
It seems by deciding to operate in China, Microsoft has placed itself increasingly between a rock and a hard place, a position which, as the west increasingly turns against China, will eventually become untenantable.