Calls for Taiwan independence surface on Reddit ahead of feared Tencent censorship

Reddit users desperately post support for Taiwan independence for fear of impending censorship byTencent

Screen capture from Reddit.

Screen capture from Reddit.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After news broke that Tencent has made a massive US$150 million investment in the social media site Reddit, many of its users have been hastily posting support for Taiwan's independence and images of the Tiananmen Square massacre out of fear that the company's new Chinese masters will demand such content be censored.

On Wednesday (Feb. 6), it was reported that Chinese conglomerate Tencent, which is worth US$427 billion, has invested US$150 million as it leads a Series D fundraising round for the social media website Reddit. Fears quickly spread among various Reddit communities, or subreddits, that content found objectionable by to the Chinese Communist Party could soon be censored, as has been often been the case when Chinese firms took over Western media outlets such as Forbes.

In an attempt to exercise "free speech" one last time before the feared "takeover" by the Chinese behemoth, and perhaps to test its patience, many Redditors (users of the platform) have begun to upload posts in support of Taiwan independence and photos of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, among other content likely to be censored in China.

The two companies seem like strange bedfellows, as many subreddits, such as r/Taiwan and r/China often contain content which is critical of the Chinese government, and the site has been blocked by China's Great Firewall since last year.

Many Redditors see the move as a mercenary attempt to make a quick buck on the part of the company's management, while Tencent may be salivating at the site's 330 million worldwide monthly users.

On Saturday (Feb. 9), Reddit user foxeydog uploaded a post titled "Since Reddit has accepted Chinese censorship money. Need to get this out there. SUPPORT AN INDEPENDENT Taiwan," which soon gained 56,700 upvotes within 24 hours.

Members on the r/Taiwan subreddit reacted with fear for the future of the integrity of the platform:

"Enjoy censorship and massive purge of users."

"Not worried about censorship but we should be worried about sharing user data."

"Calling it now, we'll be banned in two month's time. I hope I'm wrong."

On Saturday, in the subreddit r/pics, hockyjmac posted a gruesome image of gunned down protesters in Tiananmen Square.

Screenshot of Reddit post.

That same day, user Snappylobster posted an image of people being arrested in Tiananmen Square, which had the headline "Chinese persecution of Falun Gong spiritual practitioners. 10’s of thousands have been killed and tortured. They’re one of the main groups used in organ harvesting. The Chinese government doesn’t want you to see this, make sure you do." Interestingly, it has already been removed from Reddit's website.

Screenshot of Reddit post.

Today, user leoden27 uploaded a post titled "The Definitive Tiananmen Documentary in 2 Parts (1995)" in the subreddit r/Documentaries.

Screenshot of Reddit post.