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The company said its Canadian user base is growing at a rate of more than 40 per cent year over year, and that they don’t necessarily overlap with traditional social-media users.DADO RUVIC/Reuters

Popular social news and discussion website Reddit Inc. is the latest major digital company to set up an office in Toronto, where it hopes to build out sales, engineering and community teams for Canada, its third-largest market.

The company’s short-term hiring plans are small to start: Reddit has hired 10 people, with plans for five more soon, including a country manager, to eventually work in a new office in Toronto’s financial district. But the announcement is part of a growing trend in recent months of influential digital companies both expanding their presence in Canada and plotting a return to physical work spaces, even as others such as Shopify Inc. explore a future untethered from the office.

In recent weeks, Pinterest Inc. , Twitter Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. have ramped up their hiring in Toronto, while ByteDance Ltd.’s video-sharing TikTok app established a presence in the city and Microsoft Corp. said it would hire 500 new staff in Vancouver. The Indian tech-consulting firm HCL Technologies, meanwhile, promised on Friday it would hire 2,000 people in Canada over the next three years, starting with a new Mississauga office.

Reddit sees the new Toronto hub as a chance to deepen its relationship with Canada, the market with its most users outside of the United States and Britain. “What really matters is context,” said Jen Wong, the company’s chief operating officer, in an interview. “… It’s important to us to have local representation and to understand the market.”

Much of those efforts will be focused on building relationships with Canadian advertisers. The company said its Canadian user base is growing at a rate of more than 40 per cent year over year, and that they don’t necessarily overlap with traditional social-media users. It said that more than 20 per cent of Canadian Reddit users don’t use Facebook , 35 per cent don’t use Twitter and 70 per cent don’t use TikTok. (The company did not share its total Canadian user numbers, but said it has more than 52 million daily active users globally.)

Those users have built up more than 100,000 “subreddit” communities on the website. Reddit said dedicated Canadians on its community team will try to expand its user base here, supporting moderators and users in country-specific subreddits.

The website that has long been described as the “front page of the internet” made the front pages of traditional news outlets many times in the past few months. The community of self-starting investors from the subreddit WallStreetBets sent the shares of companies such as GameStop Corp. and BlackBerry Ltd. on roller-coaster rides.

Ms. Wong described the development as a natural evolution in the way the internet democratizes parts of society – first through the spread of information, then through the ease of commerce and now financial markets. But she was careful to warn that this kind of user-led movement that led to the market shakeup was a normal phenomenon for the website. “What happened on Reddit with WallStreetBets is what happens all the time on Reddit,” she said.

However, numerous online movements have negative consequences, and Reddit has been home to many of them. It has been a hotbed of fans of discredited conspiracy theories such as PizzaGate and QAnon and played host to far-right communities accused of violence and hate speech.

“We take safely, harassment and misinformation really, really seriously on the platform,” Ms. Wong said.

But some of these subreddit communities have been banned, only to sprout up elsewhere. Asked if Reddit would support any future legislation that would give more responsibility to technology companies for policing content on their platforms, she said the company would comply with any necessary laws.

But she added: “I don’t think we need legislation to help us do a better job at it. We are thinking and doing that every day. I think that we hold ourselves to a very high standard in what we expect our platform to deliver for our users to achieve our vision.”

Reddit announced its new Toronto office several months after TikTok revealed it had hired 50 Canadian employees and leased office and studio space in Liberty Village. Meanwhile, Pinterest unveiled plans in recent weeks to hire more than 50 people for its Toronto office this year, including engineers. Twitter said earlier this month it will hire dozens of new engineers for its Canadian team, with remote-work opportunities but a geographic focus on regions near its Toronto office.

Uber, meanwhile, said Friday it would double the staff in its Toronto-based tech hub to 120 this year – although the news came after it was revealed its local autonomous-car team would not join the rest of division in the sale to California’s Aurora Innovation Inc., forcing those staff to find work either inside or outside of the company.

And Vancouver is also seeing a boost that will tighten competition for tech talent there, with Microsoft announcing more than 500 jobs there this month after similar announcements from Amazon.com Inc.

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