Bid by China’s Tencent for Reddit provokes concerns about censorship

Reddit blocked in China while Tencent plays key role in censorship: reports

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Tencent expected to invest in Reddit (screenshot from Reddit website)

Tencent expected to invest in Reddit (screenshot from Reddit website)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - A reported bid by Chinese online giant Tencent to invest US$150 million in social media company Reddit is causing concern about the threat of censorship.

The deal might be complicated because Reddit is currently blocked in China by its censorship regime, in which Tencent plays a key role, according to tech website Gizmodo.

The relationship between the country’s communist government and Tencent was unclear, raising concerns similar to the suspicions by democratic nations surrounding telecom company Huawei, reports said.

According to experts, it is China’s government which sets the parameters for censorship and free speech, while it is companies like Tencent which actually apply the measures and conduct the censorship, Gizmodo reported.

Tencent owns popular Chinese site WeChat, but also has invested in U.S. sites banned in China, such as Snap of Snapchat fame and Discord.

Reddit has stood for freedom of speech, while Tencent is an active player in the Chinese government’s censorship system, reports said. The question was whether the latter’s investment would lead to an opening up of its own affiliates, or to the gradual application of Chinese-style censorship to its overseas ventures.