Users protest after Tencent invests in Reddit

Screen capture from Reddit

Reddit Inc. has raised $300 million in new venture capital funding on a valuation of $3 billion in a bid to challenge Google LLC and Facebook Inc.in advertising.

Founded in 2005 by two University of Virginia students, Reddit has continued to attract a loyal user base despite its relatively simple format, where users are invited to discuss just about any topic on more than 150,000 "sub-Reddit" forums.

"Reddit is now funded by Chinese investors, so let's remember that President Xi Jinping is so insecure in a meme that he banned Winnie the Pooh nationwide", wrote Redditor kproxurworld, referring to China's ban on the A. A. Milne character after people claimed the character held a physical resemblance to Xi Jinping. Meanwhile, Reddit heavily advocates for the freedom of speech on the Internet.

Reddit has more than 330 million average monthly active users.

In recent days Reddit users shared images of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and Winnie the Pooh in reference to concerns a tie-up with the Chinese firm would lead to stricter content controls. Search terms such as "six four" - a reference to the date of the event 4 June and "never forget" when typed into Chinese search engines have not returned any results.

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It was later reported that Reddit users were unhappy with the news and flooded the site with protest messages following the reported investment.

The Chinese government uses a number of technical measures to block foreign Internet companies.

The amount Tencent is investing in Reddit.

China-based messaging services -including Tencent-owned WeChat - and social media are restricted, with key words and expressions blocked if they express dissent or ridicule senior political leaders.

The series D funding round saw a $150 million investment from Tencent and the company's former investors, including Sequoia, Fidelity, Tacit and Snoop Dogg.

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