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An investment announced by the Chinese tech giant Tencent in Reddit has provoked a brutal reaction on the news site of the popular community following fears of censorship.
Last week's reports announced that Tencent would invest $ 150 million in the platform.
China has a strict censorship regime on the Internet, the big firewall, and Reddit is one of the blocked sites.
The proposed funding has sparked a wave of criticism of Reddit, which many of its users see as a bastion of freedom of expression.
Most analysts agree that it is unlikely that Tencent or any other investor of this type could control the content posted on the site, but that did not prevent a flood of messages and protest messages published in recent days.
The Reddit platform allows users to share links on any subject imaginable, which are then subject to a positive or negative vote, which means that the most popular content surfaces and is more important.
The platform has 330 million active users and describes itself as the "One of the Internet pages".
With sites like Facebook and Twitter, Reddit is inaccessible in China as part of the country's Great Firewall.
The government's regime of Internet censorship uses a series of technical measures to block foreign platforms and controversial content.
China-based messaging and social media services are restricted, with key words and phrases blocked if they disagree or ridicule senior politicians.
The report has caused the Reddit community to fear that the site will even face content restrictions outside of China in the future.
Winnie the Pooh memes
In recent days, Reddit users have shared footage of the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square and Winnie the Pooh raised concerns that a rapprochement with Chinese business would lead to stricter content controls.
In the past, Chinese authorities had blocked information about the crackdown on protesters on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on the occasion of the anniversary of the event. Search terms such as "six four" – a reference to the date of the event on June 4 and "never forget" entered in the Chinese search engines did not return any results.
Winnie the Pooh was also blocked at times on Chinese social media sites, bloggers comparing the cartoon character to the country's president, Xi Jinping.
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A popular FreeSpeechWarrior message featuring the image of a man stopping tanks on Tiananmen Square was voted over 200,000 times on the site.
A separate message from the user BonZZil17 said: "Thanks for the Tencent money, here is Tankman now the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989."
Another, posted by ChristopherVDV, shared an image of Winnie the Pooh, citing that Tencent's investment had been voted more than 37,000 times.
"Since Reddit just took a $ 150 million investment from a Chinese censorship center, I thought it would be nice to publish this picture of Winnie-The-Pooh before our new glorious lords no longer decide to publish it, "he added.
Nevertheless, the level of financing proposed by Tencent is far from being totally under control.
An investment of $ 150 million represents a fraction of the value of the site, estimated at $ 2.7 billion.
Tencent, which also operates Chinese social network WeChat, is one of the most successful technology companies in China.