LinkedIn | Source: wichayada – stock.adobe.com

Last week, Microsoft revealed plans to “sunset” its localized version of the LinkedIn platform in China.

The move comes amid increased pressure to comply with China’s strict censorship laws, the same regulations that have driven other international social networks out of the country. As LinkedIn’s Senior Vice President of Engineering Mohak Shroff wrote on the company’s blog, the localized platform “is how people in China access LinkedIn’s global social media platform.”

New membership signups have been paused since August and now, the company says that it will shift focus to a new InJobs app that aims to help “China-based professionals find jobs in China and Chinese companies find quality candidates.” The new app will not include a newsfeed or any social functions.

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As those in the toy industry know, the platform as it stands today is frequented by Chinese factory reps, distributors, inventors, executives, and sales teams. For the latter, most are familiar with the cold sales pitch that usually arrives as a connection request followed by the immediate arrival of a direct message containing a catalog link and a WhatsApp number. While there’s no way to gauge the volume of business conducted through the platform, it’s no doubt been a valuable tool to connect members of the industry doing business in China.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how the closure of LinkedIn China will impact engagement, sales, and even the proliferation of industry news from that part of the world. Like much of 2021, the overall outcome may well be a crapshoot.