Last week, social networking juggernaut LinkedIn announced the release of their newest localised website in Simplified Chinese. This is by no means the first attempt at translation for LinkedIn- the service is now available in a total of 22 different languages. However, moving into the Chinese market presents potential pitfalls not found in most other countries.
For one thing, expanding into China means that LinkedIn is obliged to cater to the Chinese government, censoring posts and collecting data on members in that country. Gary King, the director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, told Time that around 13 percent of all Chinese social media posts are censored. Issues related to censorship have caused both Google and Twitter to give up similar attempts to court Chinese consumers.
As it stands now, the company appears to be walking a fine line, expressing its disapproval of China’s censorship regime while implementing it as sparingly as possible for the sake of the “greater good.” Hani Durzy, director of corporate communications, told Time,
“We know that we’re going to have to comply with things that we would certainly prefer not to have to comply with. If that means filtering content, we are going to comply with that, but only if and when we are legally required to do so.”
The truth is, with an estimated 20 percent of the world’s knowledge workers, LinkedIn can ill afford to pass up the opportunity that China represents, and the company knows that localised, Chinese-language content is the key to Chinese professionals’ hearts.
In a company blog post announcing the new Chinese site, Derek Shen wrote:
“We know many professionals in China and other parts of the world prefer to communicate in their native language, particularly in a business context, and so we are excited to introduce a beta version of LinkedIn in Simplified Chinese. This will make our services localized to more members in China, so they too can leverage LinkedIn to further enhance their economic circumstances.”
Do you think LinkedIn is right to expand into China given the censorship issue? Let us know in the comments!