As news that Chinese company Tencent will invest $150 million in Reddit ricocheted across the popular aggregation website, Redditors expressed fears about censorship — and shared a lot of Winnie the Pooh and Tiananmen Square pictures.
The deal with Tencent, a holding company which specializes in technology, is reportedly part of Reddit’s plan to raise $300 million to support the company’s operations, according to a report released Tuesday by TechCrunch. Reddit, which boasts 330 million active users and bills itself as the “Front Page of the Internet,” is inaccessible in China.
Reddit confirmed the deal Monday morning, saying that it raised $300 million in a funding round led by Tencent and joined by several of the site’s existing investors. The deal gives Reddit a market valuation of $3 billion. The company did not offer further comment about the funding round.
Most of the backlash has been in the form of a number of posts to one of the site’s most popular groups, r/pics, which has over 20 million subscribers. Redditors have written that they feared the site, which is famously a bastion of free speech (with some exceptions) and the home of many niche communities, could end up facing censorship as is seen in China. There, the government blocks references to the bloody 1989 massacre in the Beijing square, as well as images that are more subtly subversive, such as the iconic and lovable Disney bear.
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