What happens when the front page of the internet is funded by the company that made the Great Firewall in China?
Reddit, the internet forum for communities, posts, and news, is currently fundraising to keep itself afloat, with a $300 million goal. Half of that goal has already been met, thanks to a massive investment of $150 million from Chinese censorship company Tencent. The company is in charge of blocking, blacklisting and preventing internet access to certain groups, sites, and information in China. Ironically, Tencent is responsible for the banning of Reddit in China.
TechCrunch reported that the majority stakeholder for Reddit used to be publisher Conde Nast. The majority stakeholder now is Advance Publishing. But Tencent’s massive investment gives it a boost in its status.
Other tech companies have considered working with the Chinese government in order to create censored products. Google had a plan for a censored search engine, called Project Dragonfly, which caused several employees to protest and quit the project. Google has announced that the company is not currently working with China, but declined to say that it would never work with China.
Tencent is now “literally reinventing censorship in China,” according to Gizmodo. The company works closely with the Chinese government to ensure that the standards for censorship are met.
Tencent also produced a mass messaging app called WeChat, which is monitored and censored by the Chinese government. WeChat has been the basis for many arrests of Chinese citizens because of the statements made on the platform.
The Citizen Lab reported that Tencent has discovered ways to censor images within messages, so that if someone shares a meme with information that is forbidden to share in China, the algorithm will automatically change the luminosity, lightness, and shade in order to gray out the text.
And this is the company that is investing in Reddit. It already has a share in Snapchat and Blizzard Games.