The case of a Chinese man has been described as a “classic case of cyberbullying” by human rights activists, but authorities say they will not investigate.
The case centres on a Chinese online gambling website where a man bought up to 10 million yuan ($1.2m) of fake currency for his gambling account, then sent out messages threatening to kill his family if he did not make the payments.
But the prosecution said there was no evidence of a crime and the man was not charged with hacking.
The man, surnamed Huang, was convicted on Monday in a Beijing court, and will spend two years in jail for hacking into the online gambling platform, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported.
The prosecution has said Huang, 28, did not intend to kill the family, and that the scheme was designed to keep him from losing his job.
Mr Huang’s case highlights how China’s government is increasingly using online platforms to target its critics and dissidents, with authorities increasingly seizing social media accounts for investigation.
The government has been accused of using online forums to instigate protests and incite violence.
In February, a court in Beijing sentenced a man to 15 years in prison for cyberbullied online, and last month a man was sentenced to five years for online bullying.
But a spokesman for the court said it would not comment on the case.
He added that it was up to the court to determine whether the man should be prosecuted.
Chinese netizens are increasingly using social media to voice their opinions on topics such as the country’s economic reforms and human rights issues.
The latest case comes just weeks after a US man was arrested for cyber bullying in China.
He was convicted in January after sending posts threatening to murder his parents, a police official said, and was released in February after serving the suspended sentence.
But he was not arrested in China and was later extradited to the US, where he is currently being held.
China has a population of about three billion and is ranked third on the world’s most populous list of countries with the most people in prison.