The PRC government issued new guidelines on Wednesday banning sexual and vulgar content on Wechat, a popular PRC chat messaging app. The app, known as Weixin in the PRC, is owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd and is the most popular messaging app in PRC with 500 million users.

Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) decreed that sexually explicit pictures and wording, including nude photos and erotic animation, and stories of “one-night stands, wife-swapping, sexual abuse and other harmful information” will be banned. Users caught posting such content can be punished.

WeChat accounts that distribute vulgar content will be closed for a week on the first offence and permanently banned after four repeated offences.

Advertisements for illegal sexual enhancement drugs or prevention of sexually transmitted diseases are banned too. Voyeuristic pictures and leaked media are also banned.

Censors claim that WeChat, if left uncontrolled, could potentially destabilise society, or in the case of pornography, damage mental health.

According to the CAC, some of the PRC’s largest Internet companies deleted 60,000 online accounts last month as they found these accounts linked to the spreading of rumours, pornography and terrorism.

Although pornography has constantly been targeted by PRC authorities, they have also cracked down on “rumor-spreading.” Critics say that this move may be used a pretext for restricting freedom of speech on political topics.

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