WeChat app

Chinese government officials have accidentally admitted over the weekend that they can access deleted WeChat messages, a Chinese news site has reported.

The admission came over the weekend from an anti-graft commission from the Chinese province of Anhui investigating reports of corruption among government officials.

"The Chaohu Municipal Discipline Inspection and Supervision Commission in March retrieved a series of deleted WeChat conversations from a suspect," the commision wrote in a message posted online on Saturday.

The commission deleted its post on Sunday, but not before it went viral on Chinese social networks.

Accidental admission sparks user privacy conversations

The post ignited long conversations about user privacy in China, discussions the Communist Party wasn't probably happy they were happening.

"Oh, I finally understand why the US bans mobile phones that are made in China," said a Chinese social media user, according to the South China Morning Post, the publication that broke the story.

Backlash was primarily aimed at the Chinese government, but also at Tencent, the Chinese tech giant behind the WeChat instant messaging application.

Tencent issued a statement on Sunday. "WeChat does not store any chat histories – they are only stored on users’ phones and computers," the company said.

The statement hit a brick wall with Chinese users since they weren't complaining about chat histories, but about deleted messages, which Tencent's response seemed to ignore.

WeChat is one of China's largest social networks, claiming to have over 980 million active monthly users. The WeChat network is so big that Chinese officials are considering using WeChat IDs as alternative electronic IDs.

The commission who accidentally admitted to having had accessed deleted WeChat messages also boasted to have found evidence of suspects admitting corruption charges. Sixty-three suspects received punishments, the deleted post said.

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