“While we strongly support freedom of expression, we recognized when we launched that we would need to adhere to the requirements of the Chinese government in order to operate in China.”
LinkedIn, explaining to American journalists in China why their accounts had been blocked by the social media company for having “prohibited content” in their profiles.
It is rapidly becoming evident that if I am going to be consistent about quitting unethical social media platforms, I will quickly be unable to participate in social media. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, whose founder, Bill Gates, periodically lectures us all about right and wrong. These are all toxic hypocrites.
LinkedIn is one of the few American social media companies that comply with Chinese government censorship demands. It blocked the accounts of several American journalists this week, citing “prohibited content” in their profiles while not explaining what that content was or why it was prohibited. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, the China reporter for Axios, announced on Twitter that her profile had been blocked in China, although it remains visible outside of the country. Other journalists reported the same action taken against them. “A U.S. company is paying its own employees to censor Americans,”she tweeted.
Her protest would be more impressive if she did not use Twitter to issue it. Twitter also pays its own employees to censor Americans, which is why I won’t use the platform. But Allen-Ebrahimian and other progressive journalists like her don’t mind that censorship, because those being censored are people whose ideas and speech they don’t approve of. Today’s journalists don’t oppose censorship; they practice it.
It’s hard to find the “good guys” here. Allen-Ebrahimian doesn’t qualify. “LinkedIn is acting rationally according to the rules that American society (and western society in general) has conditioned it to act: Seek out emerging markets, maximize profit, don’t break the law.” Allen-Ebrahimian wrote. “To now blame it for following the playbook that our own society created is not fair. But it’s easier to say LinkedIn has a moral problem, than to say that perhaps the entire playbook our society created is the source of the problem.”
Yes, she’s an anti-American anti-Capitalist (like many journalists) and her characterization is false. American society does not embrace the unethical position that if one can get away with unethical conduct without negative consequences, the conduct is acceptable. Businesses that behave that way are criticized and shunned, and usually are forced to change their behavior. We do depend upon reporters like her to let us know when companies follow the imaginary “playbook” she describes, so we can respond appropriately. Most of the time and historically journalists have done a lousy job.
Her “playbook” statement would be a justifiable Unethical Quote of the Month itself, as it demonstrates general ethics ignorance beginning with not knowing the difference between morality and ethics. She also seems to believe that if unethical conduct will not be punished, an individual or company is then blameless for engaging in it. Thus she confuses non-ethical considerations for ethical ones, a common malady among the ethically-challenged. Since Allen-Ebrahimian doesn’t comprehend ethics, she is not a credible analyst of unethical companies like LinkedIn.
In truth, the American ethics “playbook” (the rest of Western society is a different issue) is written in black and white, in unambiguous terms: human beings have certain rights regardless of government authority. Americans and American companies are bound by that statement of mission and values serving as the foundation of their nation wherever they are, and whatever they do. When they don’t, the “playbook,” which is comprised of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, has been defied.