When signing up for a service, such as Microsoft’s LinkedIn, users are increasingly wary about what personal information they hand over. For some, giving a phone number may be a step too far. Luckily, around the world users signing up for LinkedIn are not required to enter a phone number for verification. But that does not seem to be the case any longer in China.
A report by TechCrunch points to a LinkedIn spokesperson in China who confirmed users must now enter a phone number for verification. Indeed, the business-centric social media platform is strictly enforcing this new rule, including real-name verification for new and existing members.
The typically strict Chinese authorities seem to be behind this policy change. A source says Microsoft’s company has been hit with a legal order to change verification processes. That’s because China employs a rigid policy whereby online citizens must use their real identity.
LinkedIn seemingly started the new policy a few months ago but was not enforcing it strictly. Now, the network is making real-name verification through phone a rigid step in starting or holding an account.
The company has left an explanation note for Chinese users on the signup page:
“In some countries, local laws require that we confirm your identity before letting you engage with our Services. You must provide a mobile number and confirm receipt of our text. This phone number will be associated with your account and is accessible from your settings. If you choose to change or delete your confirmed mobile number your ability to access our Services in certain countries (e.g. China) will be blocked until you once again confirm your identity.”
China introduced laws to require real-name registration for online services in 2017. The new regulations were an effort by the government to clamp down on citizens being able to be online anonymously.
LinkedIn is not in a position to rally against China’s web censorship laws. In fact, the company would likely be banned if it did not adhere to the verification laws. Companies like Facebook and Google are not operating in China.