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China's Human Flesh Search Engine 248

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times has an interesting article about Human-flesh search engines — renrou sousuo yinqing — that have become a phenomenon in China: they are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath. The goal is to get the targets of a search fired from their jobs, shamed in front of their neighbors, or run out of town. It's crowd-sourced detective work, pursued online — with offline results. 'In the United States, traditional media are still playing the key role in setting the agenda for the public,' says Jin Liwen. 'But in China, you will see that a lot of hot topics, hot news or events actually originate from online discussions.' In one well known case, when a video appeared in China of a woman stomping a cat to death with the sharp point of her high heel, the human flesh search engine tracked the kitten killer's home to the town of Luobei in Heilongjiang Province, in the far northeast, and her name — Wang Jiao — was made public, as were her phone number and her employer. 'Wang Jiao was affected a lot,' says one Luobei resident. 'She left town and went somewhere else.' The kitten-killer case didn't just provide revenge; it helped turn the human-flesh search engine into a national phenomenon. Searches have also been directed against cheating spouses, corrupt government officials, amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system."
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China's Human Flesh Search Engine

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  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:08AM (#31368720) Homepage Journal

    ... amateur pornography makers, Chinese citizens who are perceived as unpatriotic, journalists who urge a moderate stance on Tibet and rich people who try to game the Chinese system."...

    Because we don't want too, thats why.

  • Re:Mob rule? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by psycho12345 ( 1134609 ) on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:25AM (#31368796)
    Agreed, this sounds like perfect expression of the Tyranny of the Majority. Thankfully they cannot organize into a political party, with all the problems that causes, ie Nazi Germany. Oh and Godwin
  • Re:4Chan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Friday March 05, 2010 @05:50AM (#31368896)

    The difference being the Chinese are motivated by a sense of moral justice (at least on the surface) instead of a nihilistic quest for lulz. Frankly I like the 4chan way better, seems more honest.
    It's also interesting that similar behavior has spontaneously developed in 2 parts of the world with a very different culture, it may indicate the way future internet-centric societies will further develop. Oh dear god IS "4chan the Future of Human Consciousness?" [hplusmagazine.com]

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:12AM (#31369024)

    Not exactly. This appears not to be an action of the Chinese government but of its citizens. The attacks on 'unpatriotic' people are probably unintended side-effects of government propaganda, just as right-wing 'patriots' in the US killing people is an unintended side-effect of Fox News. I think you can be damn sure the Chinese government has no desire to kick off another cultural revolution.

    This just makes it more scary in a way.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday March 05, 2010 @07:07AM (#31369268) Journal

    Odd that you just happen to leave out the corrupt goverment employees being hunted. Showing that this is a citizens effort, not a government one.

    In the west, we the people just let the bankers get away with the hardship they caused. Like in Iceland. Not one of the bankers has been arrested.

    No, this has nothing to do with dicatorship. And americans love this idea, it is the basis of the superhero.

  • Re:not really (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Friday March 05, 2010 @08:27AM (#31369660) Homepage

    sounds pretty anti-authoritarian-mob justice to me...

    or authoritarian mob justice

    totalitarian states usually want the monopoly on exacting punishments.

    Clearly you've never heard of the Basij [wikipedia.org], or any of the many other "patriotic" volunteer groups. When you have groups brought up in your ideology, whatever that ideology is, you're going to have large segments of that society (the conservative segments that is) to support that ideology because their natural tendency to support the status quo, support the hierarchy, support the nation, (i.e. patriotism and the fear of the other)

    Actually this sounds quite a bit like, Texas's own,Repent Amarillo [littlegreenfootballs.com] (A self described, "Army of God," or in Arabic "Hezbollah.")

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