While the other companies are relatively well-known and famous for their products, you may not be familiar with Tencent, which is strange, considering Tencent is one of the world’s leading entertainment companies.
You may be familiar with current video game fad Fortnite, but did you know that Epic games, the developers of the game, are owned by Tencent? Did you also know that popular video game League of Legends was owned by Tencent as well?
Tencent is also invested in Activision Blizzard, Tesla Motors and Snap. Safe to say, Tencent is everywhere in the tech industry. In that case, I think it’s a good idea take a look into Tencent, their origins, and their recent scandals.
The Origin of Tencent
Tencent was started in 1998 when they released messaging service OICQ (later renamed QQ due to a lawsuit from ICQ). From then on, Tencent boomed as a company, but how? How could one messaging service turn a small company into a global corporation?
For one, it’s because Tencent works closely with the Chinese government, and this partnership extends to consumer tech. QQ might’ve been one messaging service, but Tencent worked on improving QQ and creating other messaging services that are widely used across the country, such as WeChat and Qzone.
Since companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are banned, Tencent has the social media market all to themselves, permitting growth in an untouched area. Tencent’s close ties to the Chinese government enabled this growth, but these ties have caused Tencent quite a bit of trouble the past couple years.
The Scandals of Tencent
Perhaps the scandal that brought Tencent into this year’s spotlight is the ties between them and Epic Games. When Epic Games launched their own launcher, it was met with a lot of backlash, however, one of the main criticisms was Epic’s questionable ties with Tencent.
These “questionable” ties are due to Tencent’s close relations with the Chinese government, leading people to believe that their data will be shared to a country they don’t even live in. However, this is only a small portion of what we should all actually be worried about when it comes to Tencent.
For example, Tencent leads China’s surveillance and censorship efforts. For example, penalties were handed out to multiple users of WeChat, which features over a billion daily users, for insulting President Xi Jinping and other government officials. WeChat also has the ability to delete photos, so if you were sending a screenshot of a banned article to someone, that image could be deleted. Oh and of course the fine you’d receive.
While none of this is certain evidence that Tencent is working closely with the Chinese government, it does show a strong compliance with the law ¬at minimum, and in my opinion, there are definitely ties.
These situations are why people are terrified about Tencent even though they don’t live in China. Tencent wants to spread outside China, and products like Snapchat, Fortnite, and Discord are prevalent globally.
I’m not advocating that you stop using anything that Tencent is invested in, but I am warning about the products that Tencent are heavily involved in. Huawei may be deemed a risk in more than a few countries, but Tencent has the potential to be true threat if they can succeed in spreading across the globe.
Just keep in mind the type of company that Tencent is before using their products, if you can help it of course. Citizens of China don’t have much option when it comes to services like WeChat, since that’s one of the main forms of communication.
All I’m saying is that if Tencent offers a free VPN trial for their brand new VPN program or a free trial for an antivirus program, you should not take it.