LinkedIn debacle may come back to haunt the Chinese authorities

There were no winners when LinkedIn announced last week that it was making adjustments to its China censorship policy. Not LinkedIn, not Chinese internet users and not even the Chinese authorities.

LinkedIn ends up with jianbing all over its face for a number of reasons. The company comes across as being tragically naive (what were they thinking when they agreed to cleanse global news feeds of sensitive Chinese news?), woefully ill-prepared (did they think nobody would notice?) and not very forthcoming (which needs more than a set of brackets to explain).

if Linkedin "has occasionally blocked Sinocism within China" why I have only received one single notice about it? @hdurzy

— Bill Bishop (@niubi) September 4, 2014

Most media reports fail to pinpoint the real reason behind LinkedIn’s censorship kowtow. LinkedIn’s “entry” into China is really about selling (mainly) recruitment advertising to China-based companies. To be able to issue official receipts and to operate a website in China, you need a local company. So LinkedIn had to open a local office and abide by local restrictions. That includes censoring content that users post on its website.

Had LinkedIn decided to forego generating revenue in China, the company would have continued to “connect Chinese professionals to the global business community” - the site was already operational in China, available in Chinese and 4 million users had found it - and, arguably, could have continued to sell recruitment advertising abroad to be delivered back into China.

Instead, they revealed to the entire world that freedom of access to information for Chinese is not as important as making a buck and that Chinese deserve to be treated as second-class global information citizens.

But the biggest loser in this episode may well be the Chinese authorities.

It’s a logical extension for the authorities to ask foreign internet companies to cleanse negative China content globally. If these companies are willing to bend over backwards to get into the country, maybe they could bend a little more.

But now any similar future requests will immediately lead to pushback and a retelling of LinkedIn’s bumbled approach. Although this still must be a tempting request for the authorities - would anything be more pleasing to them than ridding social media of all pro-Tibetan independence posts?

Tibetan Singers Imprisoned by the Chinese for .... Singing..

— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) December 14, 2013

But the authorities larger misstep might just be in the heavy-handedness of their approach. There are few foreign internet success stories in China and the LinkedIn debacle has added to that misery. The alternate approach is just as dim. Google stands at the opposite end of the spectrum as a company that tried different approaches to China. But all signs now point to them having given up on making progress in China.

Google: "There's nothing wrong on our end" - Shenzhen court accepts #China censorship lawsuit via @nyt

— Kieran Maynard (@KieranMaynard) September 8, 2014

But the authorities may have shown their cards too soon. Two foreign internet giants are standing in the wings watching closely. Neither of the above approaches seems appealing and only the hopelessly optimistic continue to say that “the situation will change, slowly, for the better, just wait and see”. Working with the authorities has proven fruitless.

The situation is not changing for the better. More websites are being blocked, domestic censorship is increasing and the Edward Snowden revelations have just served to entrench China’s decision-makers.

But China’s success in creating domestic internet giants is not exactly as it seems. These internet giants still rely on the global internet infrastructure if they want to serve customers in China and abroad. China’s leading companies leverage global cloud services providers to deliver web content quickly around the world.

At, we are staging a battle for internet freedom in the cloud. Since we launched “FreeGoogle” in June of this year, the authorities have made consistent daily attempts to shut us down, all without success. To the contrary, our “FreeGoogle” site is used by tens of thousands of Chinese each day, we continue to free blocked content and we are seeing more instances of individuals unblocking their own websites using our technique.

As the authorities place even greater restrictions on foreign internet properties who wish to operate in China, they are giving these companies little room to manoeuvre and pushing them to adopt alternative approaches. Leveraging the global cloud by implementing collateral freedom will effectively turn the tables on the Chinese authorities. They will be left with one of two choices - to allow information to flow freely or to cut China off from the global internet. So far, we have shown that the Chinese authorities are not willing to take the latter step. Here’s hoping that they never do.


More Blog Posts

Subscribe to our mailing list
Show content from Blog | Google+ | Twitter | All. Subscribe to our blog using RSS.

Thu, Aug 10, 2023

1.4 million people used FreeBrowser to circumvent the Great Firewall of Turkmenistan

Since 2021, the authorities in Turkmenistan have taken exceptional measures to crack down on the use of circumvention tools. Citizens have been forced to swear on the Koran that they will not use a VPN. Circumvention tool websites have been systematically blocked. Arbitrary searches of mobile devices have also taken place and have even targeted school children and teachers.

The government has also blocked servers hosting VPNs which led to “near complete” internet shutdowns on several occasions in 2022. Current reports indicate that 66 hosting providers, 19 social networks and messaging platforms, and 10 leading content delivery networks (CDNs), are blocked in the country. The government presumably is unconcerned about the negative economic impact that such shutdowns can cause.

Fri, Mar 18, 2022

Well-intentioned decisions have just made it easier for Putin to control the Russian Internet

This article is in large part inspired by a recent article from Meduza (in Russian).

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russian users have had problems accessing government websites and online banking clients. Browsers began to mark these sites as unsafe and drop the connection. The reason is the revocation of digital security certificates by foreign certificate authorities (either as a direct consequence of sanctions or as an independent, good will move); without them, browsers do not trust sites and “protect” their users from them.

However, these actions, caused - or at least triggered by - a desire to punish Russia for their gruesome actions in Ukraine, will have long-lasting consequences for Russian netizens.

Digital certificates are needed to confirm that the site the user wants to visit is not fraudulent. The certificates contain encryption keys to establish a secure connection between the site and the user. It is very easy to understand whether a page on the Internet is protected by a certificate. One need just look at the address bar of the browser. If the address begins with the https:// prefix, and there is a lock symbol next to the address, the page is protected. By clicking on this lock, you can see the status of the connection, the name of the Certification Authority (CA) that issued the certificate, and its validity period.

There are several dozen commercial and non-commercial organizations in the world that have digital root certificates, but 3/4 of all certificates are issued by only five of the largest companies. Four of them are registered in the USA and one is registered in Belgium.

Mon, Aug 03, 2020

Announcing the Release of GreatFire AppMaker

GreatFire (, a China-focused censorship monitoring organization, is proud to announce that we have developed and released a new anti-censorship tool that will enable any blocked media outlet, blogger, human rights group, or civil society organization to evade censors and get their content onto the phones of millions of readers and supporters in China and other countries that censor the Internet.

GreatFire has built an Android mobile app creator, called “GreatFire AppMaker”, that can be used by organizations to unblock their content for users in China and other countries. Organizations can visit a website ( which will compile an app that is branded with the organization’s own logo and will feature their own, formerly blocked content. The app will also contain a special, censorship-circumventing web browser so that users can access the uncensored World Wide Web. The apps will use multiple strategies, including machine learning, to evade advanced censorship tactics employed by the Chinese authorities.  This project will work equally well in other countries that have China-like censorship restrictions. For both organizations and end users, the apps will be free, fast, and extremely easy to use.

This project was inspired by China-based GreatFire’s first-hand experience with our own FreeBrowser app ( and desire to help small NGOs who may not have the in-house expertise to circumvent Chinese censorship. GreatFire’s anti-censorship tools have worked in China when others do not. FreeBrowser directs Chinese internet users to normally censored stories from the app’s start page (

Fri, Jul 24, 2020

Apple, anticompetition, and censorship

On July 20, 2020, GreatFire wrote to all 13 members of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, requesting a thorough examination into Apple’s practice of censorship of its App Store, and an investigation into how the company collaborates with the Chinese authorities to maintain its unique position as one of the few foreign tech companies operating profitably in the Chinese digital market.  

This letter was sent a week before Apple CEO TIm Cook will be called for questioning in front of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. The CEOs of Amazon, Google and Facebook will also be questioned on July 27, as part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation into competition in the digital marketplace.

This hearing offers an opportunity to detail to the Subcommittee how Apple uses its closed operating ecosystem to not only abuse its market position but also to deprive certain users, most notably those in China, of their right to download and use apps related to privacy, secure communication, and censorship circumvention.

We hope that U.S. House representatives agree with our view that Apple should not be allowed to do elsewhere what would be considered as unacceptable in the U.S. Chinese citizens are not second class citizens. Private companies such as Apple compromise themselves and their self-proclaimed values of freedom and privacy when they collaborate with the Chinese government and its censors.

Mon, Jun 10, 2019

Apple Censoring Tibetan Information in China

Apple has a long history of censorship when it comes to information about Tibet. In 2009, it was revealed that several apps related to the Dalai Lama were not available in the China App Store. The developers of these apps were not notified that their apps were removed. When confronted with these instances of censorship, an Apple spokesperson simply said that the company “continues to comply with local laws”.

In December, 2017, at a conference in China, when asked about working with the Chinese authorities to censor the Apple App Store, Tim Cook proclaimed:

"Your choice is: do you participate, or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be. And my own view very strongly is you show up and you participate, you get in the arena because nothing ever changes from the sideline."

In the ten years since Apple was first criticized for working with the Chinese authorities to silence already marginalized voices, what has changed? Apple continues to strictly follow the censorship orders of the Chinese authorities. When does Tim Cook expect that his company will help to bring about positive change in China?

Based on data generated from, Apple has now censored 29 popular Tibetan mobile applications in the China App Store. Tibetan-themed apps dealing with news, religious study, tourism, and even games are being censored by Apple. A full list of the censored apps appear below.

Subscribe to our blog using RSS.


inspired a lot from this post am following this blog regularly and found very good for bookmarking thanks admin
new year sms in hindi 2015
happy new year sms 2015
happy new year 2015 wallpapers
happy new year 2015 quotes
happy new year 2015
happy new year wishes 2015

As you can see that there are series of business where childrens focus is to Learn Mandarin in Singapore to know Chinese culture and raise the communication skills in different solutions.

this post is awesome, great msg for us, plz update ur blog for daily basis, i am regular visitor of this site, so keep posting for us,

click the below links to create backlink
best free backlink website
click here for msg movie

thanks for this post, keep it up for updating us, i am waiting for ur new article.
IPL8 live stream 2015
thanks again

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.