Tencent Reddit Investment Sparks Censorship Fears
Strict censorship of social media platforms in China has led the website to be blocked, along with a host of other online platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook.
Investment in Reddit from Chinese technology giant Tencent has raised concerns over censorship among users of the popular online community.
Reports last week said that the firm intends to invest more than $150 million (£115 million) into the platform, but strict censorship of social media platforms in China has led the website to be blocked along with a host of other online platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.
Some Reddit users believe the investment will herald a new era of censorship on the website which has been described as “the front page of the internet”.
Users on this platform can share links or start threads on virtually any subject – within the website’s guidelines – which can then be broadcast to millions of users depending on the posts’ popularity.
The fundamental nature of Reddit, users suggested, does not align with the Chinese Government’s views on censorship, which uses a number of measures to block content deemed controversial or disruptive.
Social media platforms and messaging services such as WeChat, owned by Tencent, are heavily restricted. Tencent also owns a significant portion of Epic Games, creator of highly-popular battle royale game, Fortnite.
Chinese search engines block content on a range of topics, from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest to Winnie the Pooh. The latter of these was blocked following comparisons between the cartoon character and President Xi Jinping.
Users took to the platform to share images of both following reports of Tencent’s investment in the website.
A post by user ChristopherVDV showed the cartoon figure with the comment: “Given that Reddit just took a $150 million investment from a Chinese censorship powerhouse, I thought it would be nice to post this picture of Winnie-The-Pooh before our new glorious overlords decide we cannot post it anymore.”
Another post by user kproxurworld showed a comparison image of President Xi and Winnie the Pooh with the title: “Reddit is now funded by Chinese investors, so let’s remember that President Xi Jinping is so insecure in a meme that he banned Winnie the Pooh nationwide.”
While Redditors are concerned over the involvement of a Chinese tech giant in the platform, its proposed investment does not give it full control. The $150 million (£115 million) touted only represents a small percentage of the website’s overall value – which is believed to be as much as $2.7 billion (£2.09 billion).