Reddit is reportedly set to land a massive investment from a Chinese censorship powerhouse in order to keep the “Internet’s front page” rolling.
Web-tech giant Tencent is expected to inject $210 million into the website as part of a Series D fundraising round, and depending on how much Reddit raises, the round is expected to push the company past a $3 billion valuation, according to TechCrunch.
But the union between Tencent and Reddit is being challenged by a confused public, who are very much aware of the fact that Reddit is currently blocked in China, and has been for the past 90 days.
As part of China’s notorious censorship regime, the Great Firewall of China, Tencent’s impending investment in the Silicon Valley company and what sort of influence it will gain at Reddit still remains unclear.
As one of the main architects of the Great Firewall of China, which blocks access to selected foreign websites restricting people from accessing online content, Tencent’s new western venture has raised questions regarding Reddit’s future as users are fearing their beloved social website will inevitably be censored.
“It is representative of the strange bedfellows that the interaction of the US and Chinese technology systems creates,” said Adam Segal, a cybersecurity expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“There is much bringing them together — money, people, and ideas. And there are serious political forces pulling them apart.”
The deal has sparked a furious reaction on Reddit, as avid users take to the website to post photos exposing China and its firewall before the potential “censorship” starts.
One user posted a picture of Tiananmen Square, the scene of the 1989 massacre where nearly a million pro-democratic protesters gathered before being indiscriminately fired at by Chinese troops.
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 “Tank Man” at Tienanmen Square before our new glorious overlords decide we cannot post it anymore. from r/pics
Another shared a picture of Tibetan protesters being beaten by Chinese soldiers, an image demonstrating the extent to which violence is used to dealt with peaceful resistance to China’s rule, something the Great Firewall stops from coming to the public’s attention.
China has been occupying Tibet since 1949 and will torture and kill peaceful protestors who advocate for Tibetan freedom. from r/pics
As fears grow over the status of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the decline of its self-rule becomes a major concern, protests have become commonplace in the streets on Hong Kong. One user took to Reddit to share their disdain towards the new deal between Reddit and Tencent, and their fear of the website becoming censored.
Hong Kong had also been losing its freedom. Our legislative system is more and more corrupt, while our people mysteriously disappear and end up in China. Don’t let Hong Kong be the new Tibet. from r/pics
China’s ‘patriotic’ crackdown on religion in an effort to ‘Sinicize’ their entire culture saw the construction of what they called “re-education” camps in Beijing. But the UN human rights committee and leaked photographs revealed what were really concentration camps where approximately one million Uighurs were being held in arbitrary detention.
These people put their own citizens in concentration camps. We can not allow censorship! Let’s make sure the world sees. from r/pics
Reddit, a company which stands for free speech, isn’t alone in receiving a cash booster from the tech juggernaut, with Snap and Discord included in Tencent’s global investment program.