Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Tencent investment in Reddit sparks censorship worry

Tencent investment in Reddit sparks censorship worry

Chinese tech giant Tencent has invested 150 million US dollars in American online forum site Reddit, with the social news aggregator confirming Monday that it attracted 300 million USA dollars in a fundraising round that values the company at more than three billion US dollars.

It is ranked among the most visited US Web sites, and has more than 138,000 "communities" for discussions on various topics.

Reddit has raised a new $300 million round of funding from investors including Tencent, Sequoia, Fidelity and Andreessen Horowitz among others. Meanwhile, Reddit heavily advocates for the freedom of speech on the Internet.

Founded in 2005, Reddit has consistently drawn an avid, young core user base, with 50% of its 330 million monthly active users between ages 18-24.

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.

The Chinese government uses a number of technical measures to block foreign Internet companies. But Tencent, according to Crunchbase, is an investor in 349 companies, many in the west, and there is no proof that they have ever interfered with or attempted to have a company it has invested in censor content. Chinese authorities also blocked references to the date of Tiananmen Square Massacre such as "4 June" and "six four".

According to Steve Huffman, the CEO of Reddit, Tencent's advantages in video games are part of the reason the two companies work together.

Users also often photos of Winnie The Pooh to poke fun of Chinese President Xi Jinping's appearance.

Tencent owns the all-in-one messaging app WeChat and is considered as one of the biggest gaming company in the world thanks to the ownership of the popular "League of Legends".

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