With China rated recently as the world’s fastest growing economy, there is no doubt many companies want the piece of the pie. However, as Google, which has been banned in China, and Facebook and Twitter, which have been censored there, can attest, it is no picnic trying to do business in China as an internet company. However, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is determined to rise to the challenge, even if that means a moral dilemma or two, particularly with regards to censorship.
While he declares in an interview with Bloomberg’s Betty Liu, “We are very firm advocates for freedom of expression, and we are very firm opponents of censorship, ” he then says, “The challenge was how we were going to do it and which values we would be open to compromising by virtue of doing business there, and which we would not, you know, where we could draw very firm lines.”
While Weiner may be personally against censorship in any way, his company is doubtless going to have to make compromises if it is going to offer its services to professionals and students in China. The company might have to censor resumes, which is likely to offend users. Weiner talked about creating graphs to visually communicate an individual’s skills, transcending language barriers or material that would potentially offend the Chinese government.
There is no question that LinkedIn may have to compromise some of their openness when operating in China–the question is what form these compromises will take.