Human Flesh Search Engines in China

dulcinea_logo.jpgIn China, online vigilantes, or “netizens,” use the Internet as a “human flesh search engine” to find and punish people who publish material they consider inappropriate.

Human Flesh Search Engine” is an imprecise translation of “ren'rou sou'suo,” which can be translated as “human-assisted search engine.” In China, though, the Internet is searched by people to hunt down other people and conduct muckraking campaigns.

A mob of Chinese ‘netizens' tracked down and punished a 21-year old video blogger whose clip they deemed unpatriotic.

Gao Qianhi, a 21-year old Chinese woman, recently posted an online video of herself complaining about the huge amount of TV coverage of the southwest China earthquakes: “You guys, if you're hit by the rubble, just go suffer by yourself quietly.”

Hours later, intimate details about Ms. Qianhi's life were spread across the Internet.

With internet mobbing, the victim's personal information is published to a broad audience, along with derogatory comments and death threats.

While Internet mobbing occurs in other countries, the movement appears to be particularly powerful in China because large-scale human flesh search engines are unique to are made easy by ubiquitous manpower and China's ingrained tradition of ‘people's war' dating back to Mao, along with a justice system that's less than perfect.

Hat tip to search engine Finding Dulcinea for uncovering this terrific story.