What happened: A WeChat group administrator was sentenced to six months in jail after allowing pornographic content including stickers and videos to be shared among members of the group. This is the first prison sentence handed to a WeChat group admin for spreading porn (which is illegal in China). In a similar case last year, offenders were given a suspended sentence. The six-month prison sentence is still considered lenient.
Why it’s important: The Cyberspace Administration of China issued new regulations which made group admins responsible for content shared in the group in October 2017. Prior to this case, there were many instances of group admins being held responsible for illegal gambling and at least one case in which a person was arrested for criticizing the government in a WeChat group. In all these cases, the mechanism through which the police obtained incriminating content is unclear. It is known that WeChat has a sophisticated system for filtering images and even text through Optical Character Recognition. The most likely scenario in this case, however, is that someone simply tipped the police off.