Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Tencent investment in Reddit sparks censorship worry in some users

Tencent investment in Reddit sparks censorship worry in some users

Tencent Holdings Ltd. has led a $300 million funding round in the USA forum site Reddit Inc., following its 2017 investment in another rival Snap Inc.

According to Bloomberg, American news feed website Reddit received $300 million in total in a new round of financing. Reddit is banned in China under the country's censorship laws. This is considerably lower than other massive platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

The free speech campaign by Reddit users may ensure that remains the case for some time.

Reddit is now hitting 330 million users per month across a wide range of content including politics, entertainment, technology, sports and controversial posts involving conspiracy theories and adult content. Users can vote for content using the thumbs up or thumbs down buttons.

Most analysts agree that it is unlikely Tencent or any other such investor would be able to control what content is posted on the site but that hasn't stopped a stream of memes and protest messages appearing in the past few days. Ever since it was rumored that Tencent was going to invest in Reddit, a number of Reddit users posted images of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Search terms such as "six four" - a reference to the date of the event 4 June and "never forget" when typed into Chinese search engines have not returned any results.

Winnie the Pooh's image is banned in China because users have mocked the character's resemblance to China's President Xi Jinping.

Spokeswomen for Reddit and Tencent declined to comment on the outcry from users.

CNBC followed up Monday morning with an interview with Reddit's CEO Steve Huffman, who told the publication that his company was continuing to build out its ads business.

The Chinese government uses a number of technical measures to block foreign Internet companies.

Tencent operates online games and popular WeChat social media service.

According to the BBC, Taipei-based independent technology analyst Sam Reynolds said that Tencent's investment should not have censorship risks for Reddit.

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