Emojis increasingly being used as evidence in Chinese courts: Report

Updated on Jun 30, 2022 02:06 PM IST
Chinese courts have taken cognizance of emojis in at least 158 cases filed across the country since 2018, local media reports said this week
A Chinese flag is seen near surveillance cameras outside the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in Beijing, China, on March 31, 2022. (REUTERS/FILE)
A Chinese flag is seen near surveillance cameras outside the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in Beijing, China, on March 31, 2022. (REUTERS/FILE)

Emojis - the tiny and trendy digital images used to denote emotion in digital communication - are increasingly being used as evidence in Chinese courts, local media reports said this week.

“One intermediate court in the southern city of Shenzhen recognised a response using a sun emoji as an endorsement of extending the lease in a rental dispute,” the Sixth Tone website said in a report on how emojis were being used as proof in courts, adding, “A county court in the eastern Anhui province stated in 2020 that an icon referring to the OK hand gesture didn’t constitute evidence for the acknowledgement of a loan contract.”

Chinese courts have taken cognizance of emojis in at least 158 cases filed across the country since 2018. The number of cases where lawyers presented emojis as evidence rose from eight in 2018 to 61 in 2021. There were 23 such cases in 2019, and the highest so far, 66 in 2020.

The data was unearthed from the country’s national database on cases and released online by the eastern Chinese province Jiangsu’s Higher People’s Court. The information triggered a buzz on Chinese social media with discussions on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, being read more than 200 million times in the past two days.

Ironically, many shared the emoji for “surprise” after reading the news. Others wondered aloud how careful they need to be in using emojis while exchanging messages.

The use of these icons, however, is not regulated and local media reports said there’s much confusion about their usage.

According to the news website thepaper.cn, the Jiangsu Higher People’s Court said, the interpretation of emojis is highly subjective and lacks a unified standard, making it difficult for the court to accurately translate the true meaning of the symbols.

“Therefore, although emoji, as a form of expression, can be used as ‘evidence in court’, in the process of specific practice, relevant aspects still need to be viewed with caution,” the court said in its post.

In a 2020 thesis titled Aggressiveness of emojis before the court: a sociosemiotic interpretation, three Chinese experts said the usage is a new challenge for courts.

“Emojis, used as evidence as any language is used in communication, have posed new challenges for courts to adopt emojis as evidence beyond the traditional mode of speech and communication and to interpret them appropriately, especially their aggressive side of meaning,” said Le Cheng, Yuxiu Sun and Jian Li, writing in the peer-reviewed journal Social Semiotics, which focusses on communication, cultural studies, linguistics and languages.

According to Sixth Tone, legal experts agreed that interpreting the nuances of emojis has posed a challenge to industry.

“In our fast-paced life, it would be inappropriate to deem online expressions as core proof when people may only be using them as a symbol of politeness or making a reply without carefully reading the content,” the Sixth Tone reported quoted Ge Shuchun, a lawyer and member of the China Law Society, telling the state-run Beijing Youth Daily.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • A range of period products displayed, from sanitary napkins, to tampons to more sustainable options like the menstrual cup.

    This country is the first to provide free access to period products for all

    Scotland will on Monday become the first country in the world to ensure universal access to free period products following the passing of landmark legislation in 2020. "Providing access to free period products is fundamental to equality and dignity, and removes the financial barriers to accessing them," said Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison. "We are proud to be the first national government in the world to take such action," she added.

  • Author Salman Rushdie, behind screen left, is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York.

    Salman Rushdie ‘off ventilator and talking’, day after attack, says agent

    Salman Rushdie has been taken off the ventilator and is able to talk, said his book agent Andrew Wylie, a day after The Satanic Verses author was stabbed at an event in New York. Rushdie remained hospitalized with serious injuries, but fellow author Aatish Taseer had tweeted late evening that he was “off the ventilator and talking (and joking).” Rushdie's agent confirmed the information to Associated Press without giving further details.

  • President Joe Biden. (File image)

    US President Biden expresses shock at ‘vicious attack’ on Salman Rushdie

    US President Joe Biden expressed shock over the "vicious attack" on Salman Rushdie and said that he pray for his health and recovery. White House termed the attack on Salman Rushdie as "appalling" and said that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Administration is praying for a speedy recovery of the renowned author. Hadi Matar, who is suspected of stabbing an Indian-born-British author in western New York State on Friday morning during a lecture was arraigned in centralized arraignment on Saturday and was remanded without bail at Chautauqua County Jail. A suspect has been taken into custody.

  • Hadi Matar, 24, center, listens to his public defense attorney Nathaniel Barone, left, addresses the judge while being arraigned in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York.

    Author Salman Rushdie’s attacker pleads not guilty to attempted murder

    A 24-year old New Jersey man charged with attempted murder and assault for attacking author Salman Rushdie has pleaded not guilty. Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey was arraigned in centralised arraignment on Saturday and was remanded without bail at Chautauqua County Jail. Authorities with New York State Police told PTI that Matar pleaded not guilty and was held in the Chautauqua County Jail.

  • Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man, who stabbed Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday.

    Salman Rushdie's attacker Hadi Matar charged with attempted murder, assault

    Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man who stabbed Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday, has been charged with 'attempted murder and assault in the second degree', the Chautauqua Country district attorney's office said on Saturday. Matar was born and raised in the US, the head of the local municipality, Ali Qassem Tahfa, told news agency AFP. Rushdie remained hospitalised in serious condition.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now