Yahoo Ends Service in China Due to 'Challenging' Environment

Yahoo has become the latest American company to decouple itself from the Chinese marketplace, amid tighter internet regulations and censorship requirements.

On Saturday, the California-based company released a short statement saying Yahoo would "no longer provide content for users in mainland China" as of November 1. "Yahoo products and services remain unaffected in all other global locations," it added.

Yahoo—operator of global services including a search engine, news sites, email platform and more—told agencies on Tuesday that its decision to quit the 1.4-billion-person market was "in recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China."

"Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet," it said without elaborating.

Before Monday, Yahoo's services in China included news and weather, according to Reuters, which said the company entered the Chinese market in 1998. It had already begun to wind down its music and mail operations in 2013, before shutting its Beijing office in 2015.

"Its withdrawal from China is largely symbolic as at least some of Yahoo's services, including its web portal, have been blocked in the country," The Associated Press said in a report.

China's highly regulated internet environment means foreign operators must abide by laws mandating the censorship of political sensitive content, including specific keyword searches.

This has been made easier with the introduction over the last two decades of popular Chinese alternatives to Western social media services such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. The country's main search engine Baidu also offers a map service, while Weibo is by far the largest social media tool.

Chinese citizens hoping to gain access to Western alternatives—for work, school or diplomacy—do so through a government-approved virtual private network.

Yahoo's official departure comes hot on the heels of Microsoft ending LinkedIn's services in the country three weeks earlier, amid complaints from prominent journalists who found their profiles blocked in China due to the content of their work.

The popular networking website has been replaced with a China-specific job-hunting service.

"While we've found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed," LinkedIn said in a statement at the time.

It continued: "We're also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China. Given this, we've made the decision to sunset the current localized version of LinkedIn."

LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft in 2016, two years after it entered China.

Yahoo Quits China Market Amid Legal Challenges
File: The Yahoo logo is displayed in front of the Yahoo headqarters on July 17, 2012, in Sunnyvale, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images