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article imageLinkedIn: Free speech or yuan?

By Chikako Uchinami     Jun 29, 2014 in Internet
Mountain View - LinkedIn users concerns about freedom of speech are being complicated by reports of communist party ties, mainstream media says.
The Silicon Valley social media giant is facing a mounting firestorm of criticism from users worldwide who have been "silenced" by the firm's automated Site-Wide Auto-Moderation System, according to recent reports by Forbes Magazine columnists Cheryl Connor and George Anders.
The SWAM system is supposed to quiet "boisterous" social-media posters and stop SPAM, according to Gary Ellenbogen, owner of the LinkedIn user's group "NO SWAM" and an organizational and social psychologist at New York's Vision Architecture.
But a new dimension to the conflict is opening up.
Reports are surfacing that LinkedIn has cut a deal with the Chinese Communist Party to censor content deemed "offensive" to politburo apparatchiks in Beijing, in exchange for free reign to recruit PRC clients. While this "state-sponsored censorship" is supposed to affect users only in the People's Republic of China, LinkedIn clients outside the PRC are becoming wary.
The story is being followed closely by Digital Journal's staff and reporters.
In February of this year Digital Journal's Michael Krebs posted new details about the widening controversy, while Agency France-Presse (AFP) posted a bombshell on Digital Journal:
"LinkedIn pledged to be limited and open about its compliance. 'As a condition for operating in the country, the government of China imposes censorship requirements on Internet platforms,' it said in an online statement posted Sunday."
Digital Journal's Brett Wilkins revealed shocking new facts when he wrote that LinkedIn was actively censoring posts on the June 4th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The charges may sound surreal- but they are substantiated by public statements from LinkedIn officials.
Users hope that LinkedIn can find a way to "engineer" their way out of the technicalities of the SWAM dilemma. But the exercise of free speech, and the freedom of the press in particular- is not negotiable.
More about Linkedin, swam, People's Republic of China, United States of America, freedom of speech
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