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renrou sousuo yinqing (Human-flesh search engines)

Human-flesh search engines -- renrou sousuo yinqing -- have become a Chinese phenomenon: they are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath.

The popular meaning is now not just a search by humans but also a search for humans, initially performed online but intended to cause real-world consequences. Searches have been directed against all kinds of people, including 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. Human-flesh searches highlight what people are willing to fight for: the political issues, polarizing events and contested moral standards that are the fault lines of contemporary China.

Posted to Asia, search, words.

China's Cyberposse
Published: March 7, 2010
Internet users are hunting down and punishing people who have attracted their wrath.


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