Chinese technology company Tencent has invested $150 million in Reddit, leading users to respond en masse with images and memes of lovable children’s character, Winnie the Pooh.
The investment drew the ire of Reddit users due to China’s strict internet censorship laws, with many fearing that the platform’s content and free speech would be scaled back as a result.
The unlikely face of these protests would be A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, universally adored in most nations, but certainly not by the Chinese government.
Last year saw widespread removal of the character’s image online, as well as completely banning the release of Disney’s family film Christopher Robin in Chinese theatres.
The cull came as a result of images poking fun at Chinese president’s Xi Jinping’s likeness to the animated figure — particularly when pictured with other political figures — and in the wake of the Tencent deal, Reddit users acted accordingly.
The jibes did not just stop with the portly Pooh however, as responses ranged everywhere from legendary meme Bad Luck Brian and South Park’s “and it’s gone” to references to the infamous Tiananmen Square incident, including the enigmatic figure Tank Man.
The comments section was just as rife with mockery, with one user saying: “I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords”.
Another declared: “This has been a test of the emergency anti-Chinese censorship system.
“This was only a test. Had there been a real emergency, you would not have seen these memes.”
Yet another warned: “Don’t be silly, you’ll get away with this for a while. Then the dark shadow descends and the shadow banning begins”.
Ultimately, it is much ado about nothing, as the investment of a Chinese technology company has no bearing to the government’s censorship laws on users abroad, but the sensationalist response will likely continue for a while longer.