06 March 2010

Human-flesh Search Engines in China ... NYTimes Feature



Human-flesh Search Engines in China - NYTimes.com: "The short video made its way around China’s Web in early 2006, passed on through file sharing and recommended in chat rooms. It opens with a middle-aged Asian woman dressed in a leopard-print blouse, knee-length black skirt, stockings and silver stilettos standing next to a riverbank. She smiles, holding a small brown and white kitten in her hands. She gently places the cat on the tiled pavement and proceeds to stomp it to death with the sharp point of her high heel."

This article (linked supra) from the NYTimes.com is a real humdinger. It portends truly epic consequences for the world if everyone adopts this sort of unchecked Chinese worldview that allows/encourages a cyber posse mentality for retribution against those that the majority (or a substantial) number of Netizens deems worthy of punishment.

If you read this terrifically researched piece, you'll discover, as I did, the new phrase "human-flesh search engine" which is basically a web of human intelligence (HUMINT for you militarily minded) or human-powered researched data that seeks out neerdowells, or even those individuals who are unpopular, based upon clues revealed from their online activity. We're all just a few clicks away from being "discovered," no? However, in China, where there is still a hegemony of news information by the government (i.e., CENSORSHIP), the Chinese cyber citizenry en masse through BBS (bulletin boards) outlets have created a turnkey source for juicy gossip. The more outrageous postings sometimes lead to cyber bullying and indeed swift retribution where individuals are "outed" and then chased out of communities or fired from their jobs, and yes, even threatened with physical violence.

Click the link above and have a read. Be sure to let us know what you think of this world without habeas corpus or due process or presumption of innocence (good gawd I love the West). Btw, I think the above image from the NYTimes article represents a posse of (repurposed?) Chinese characters chasing one individual nefarious character atop the page fleeing for his font's very life. Pretty cool illustration.


7 comments:

NYTimes Fan said...

that's what anonymity is all about ... making snarky comments and retreating back to your corner of the world. stomping out kitty life is unacceptable, though, so maybe a few thousand chinese characters should chase after those idiots!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

What an incredible, terrifying read. I can see many a wife or husband wishing very similar revenge on their cheating spouses such as the story of Jiang yan and Wei Fei. What an eye opener to know something much like human-flesh searches happen in other parts of the globe including the U.S.A. Makes one think twice, three times about what they put out for all the universe to read. Beware of the 'wang min'. I'm afraid I'm way too boring for anyone to put me on their radar. You are the other hand are much more interesting! Great read J Gregg, real eye-opener.
Hope you are doing well this week? x

JGregg for FatScribe said...

NYT Fan -- I try not to be too snarky, but I see your point.

DT -- Glad you found it as bothersome as I did. Really unsettling what can happen if an individual get caught up in the group blood lust thing. Have a great week too! - Jg.

Barbara said...

I had not seen this. Frightened the daylights out of me! And I sent it on to a few others. Appreciate your heads up, JG!

I keep telling my granddaughter to keep her mouth shut and info private on Facebook. Hopeless.

christian soldier said...

"...without habeas corpus or due process or presumption of innocence..." ...
and the...
First Amendment..protected by the...
Second Amendment....

I just had to add those..:-)

C-CS

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi JG
This is quite horrifying... I can't remember.. is it Japan or China that has those violent graphic novels? That also blows my mind. Gladly I am seriously boring which means I should fly under the radar nicely... also anonymous... I once mentioned at work that i had a blog and well the raised eyebrows were enough for me to not mention it again... ha ha

I'm off to read the article... Love your interpretation of the NYT image.. Julie

Emm said...

I want to say this is a great idea but I had experience last week of when it goes wrong. The search for the adult identity of child killer John Venables has reached fever pitch here in the UK (he was 10 when he killed toddler James Bulger) and one man has repeatedly been outed as him. But he is not John and he has had to prove it again and again over the past ten years. There is no concept of innocent until proven guilty in the webisphere.