Photos of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre began trending on social bookmarking site Reddit after users found out the forum may be receiving a hefty investment from a Chinese tech giant.
TechCrunch reported last week that Tencent will invest US$150 million in an upcoming funding round for Reddit – the self-described “front page of the internet.”
Tencent runs WeChat, China’s most popular social mobile app, and has a market value of over US$500 billion, making it one of the largest tech conglomerates in the country. It also owns a stake in Snap, the company behind the messaging app Snapchat.
Users have responded to the news by posting content that would be censored in mainland China, including photos of Tank Man, Winnie the Pooh and the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.
“Given that reddit just took a $150 million investment from a Chinese censorship powerhouse, I thought it would be nice to post this picture of ‘Tank Man’ at Tienanmen [sic] Square before our new glorious overlords decide we cannot post it anymore,” wrote the user “FreeSpeechWarrior.” The post has been upvoted more than 200,000 times as of Monday.
The Reddit website itself has been blocked in mainland China since last August.
Other users have also rallied around the Disney character Winnie the Pooh, banned in China for its alleged resemblance to Xi Jinping.
“While we’re posting images that piss China off, don’t forget that Xi Jinping looks like Winnie the Pooh!” wrote user “lambdaknight”.
Some users also drew attention to the Chinese government’s treatment of Buddhist monks in Tibet and Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
“Let’s also remind the fact that the Chinese government is increasing the number of ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang for Muslims,” wrote user “yaucp”.
Aside from images, Reddit users have also compiled a list of keywords censored in mainland China, which other users then copied and pasted on different sub-reddits.
The list included Chinese and English words for the Cultural Revolution, Falun Gong and Taiwan independence – terms which are censored under China’s Great Firewall.
As of Monday, Reddit had not made any public statement on Tencent’s potential investment.
HKFP has reached out to Reddit and Tencent for comment.