The Chinese technology giant Tencent is set to pump a $150 million investment into the social media site Reddit, which advertises itself as "the front page of the internet," even though the online discussion forum site is currently blocked by Chinese government censorship — and TenCent is one of the firms most responsible for building the "Great Firewall of China" that blocks sites the government does not want Chinese internet users to access, according to a report by the tech news site Gizmodo.
Reddit is currently the sixth-most trafficked site in the United States and 17th-most trafficked in the world, according to stats compiled by the web data site Alexa.com. The site currently boasts 330 million users every month in at least 150,000 "subreddits," or discussion groups where users post news and commentary about an expansive variety of often highly specialized interests, according to Fortune Magazine online.
Tencent also owns 12 percent of the social media app Snapchat, and has invested in the chat app Discord — even though both are blocked by the Chinese Great Firewall, according to Gizmodo. Fortune noted however, that the $150 million cash infusion to be funneled into Reddit is mere "pocket change" for Tencent, which currently sports a staggering market value of $427 billion.
Some Reddit users took to the online forum offered by the site itself to denounce the investment from China, a country that launched a "broad and sustained offensive on human rights" under current leader Xi Jinping, and which has a lengthy history of human rights violations, according to Human Rights Watch.
According to the Australian news site News.com.au, Tencent is not simply investing in a site that is censored by the Chinese government, the firm itself is largely responsible for that censorship.
"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," the site reported.
While Reddit has largely flown under the radar in the ongoing revelations over Russian social media propaganda campaigns, as the Associated Press reported, the site has not escaped the scandal.
Reddit recently purged about 1,000 Russian "troll" accounts from its online forums, according to TechCrunch, and has also faced criticism over "racist, misogynistic and homophobic content" in some of its subreddits. Whether Tencent will have any say in the content of Reddit following the $150 million investment remains unclear.