They Will Find You...Eventually
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Human-Flesh Search Engines: They Will Find You...Eventually

Human-Flesh Search Engines: They Will Find You...Eventually | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it

Image Source: http://searchengine.tvo.org/blog/search-engine/human-flesh-search-engine

Loren's insight:

Rénròu Sōusuǒ, known as human-flesh search engines, is a China cyber phenomenon that first developed in 2001 when a user on MOP, a Chinese forum, claimed that the women who he posted a picture of on the forum was his girlfriend. Users on the forum wanted to find out who the women really was, and it was later found  that she was model Chen Ziyao, after the fact that they exposed her personal information, just to prove that the guy who posted her picture was lying.

 

According to Tapia and Schoellkopf's Vimeo video, Human Flesh Search engine:Part 1, "human-flesh search engine is a behavior; it is an online collaboration to find and reveal information about a person that has provoked outrage among Netizens". Do citizens of China have the right to expose, exploit, and ruin a person's reputation in order to receive justice for their society?

 

"Currently we have no legislation protecting people's privacy in China," he said. "On the other hand, Chinese netizens are not mature enough to control their own online behavior" ("Human flesh search engine: an Internet lynching?") Unlike the United States, there are no laws protecting the privacy of China's citizens. In fact, one of the main reasons why so many people in China participate in human-flesh search engines is due to cultural beliefs. Xujun Eberlein, an American Chinese author and commentator, states that one of the five virtues in the Confucian tradition is that "righteous people tend to take matters into their own hands" (qtd. O'Brein, Forbes).  Thus, human-flesh search engines serve as doing a good deed and receiving justice for the Chinese society. In addition, the Chinese government is not regulated by censors or government regulation (Downey), which also goes hand in hand with the undemocratic government of China (Explainer:What is a human flesh search engine?).

 

However, some may disagree (like myself), that human-search engines are ethical. In some cases human-flesh search engines are for good purposes. For example, in an earthquake that took place in Sichuan,  a solider working with the relief effort posted a message online to help find his pregnant wife who was stranded in the effected area; the online search found her in 24 hours. Another positive instance involves Deng Yujiao who was charged with the murder of an government official with a pedicure knife. It was later found out, by reporter Wu Gan, that the official tried to rape Yujiao and she was later released without charge ( Explainer: What is a human flesh search engine?).

 

However, throughout my research, I found more than several instances of negative outcomes that human-flesh search engines have had on society, including the United States. The issues of freedom of expression, privacy, slander, and cyber bullying are all involved with human-flesh search engines. Some examples are:

 

-- Zhang Ya posted a video of herself complaining that her show was interrupted by earthquake reportage. Netizens searched and threaten to kill her, all over a video she posted expressing how she felt.

--Wang Fei, who committed adultery and was blamed for the death of his wife  successfully sued Daqi, Tianya and the blog provider of his dead wife’s blog for slander. "His cell phone number, student ID, work contacts, and even his brother's license-plate was revealed [to the public]" (Downey).

 

--Jessi Slaughther (not her real name) from the United States was a victim of a human-flesh search engine as well. She received much criticism and hatred from her YouTube video. Her real name, address, links to all her social accounts, and phone number was exploited to the public. She started to receive prank calls and death threats which resulted in her and her family to be placed under police protection.

 

--Ding Jinhoa, a 15-year old boy, received much criticism for defacing a Egyptian relic. The human-flesh searcher identified him, and later his parents had to contact local media to apologize for their son's actions. In this case, I agree that they went "too far in hunting down a minor and harassing him and his family" (Kharel) and that people should have offered  "more protection and education should be given to him rather than criticism" (qtd. Kharel).


China's government has thought of the idea of requiring online bloggers and forum users to register with their real name. There was a law enacted that states if officials were found to leak their own personal information that could then be found by the human-flesh search engine, they, the officials, could receive a three year jail sentence (O'Brien). This brings up an important point: people, no matter if you are a governmental official, a regular person who works a nine to five, or even the underemployed Chinese citizens who take part in the human search engines, should have more responsibility in protecting their information and be cautious of what they put online.

 

"A survey by the China Youth Daily last week showed that 79.9 percent of the 2,491 netizens polled believed that Renrou search should be regulated, 65.5 percent thought it might become a new way of venting anger and revenge, 64.6 percent said it infringing privacy, and 20.1 percent feared that they would become a target" (Human flesh search engine: an internet lynching?). Some citizens of China live in fear that they would become a victim of the human-flesh search engine and that it should be regulated. However, the human-flesh search engine is an important outlet for Chinese citizens not to only receive information, it is an actual part of their culture and possibly will not be stopped anytime soon unless there are solid laws enacted to protect the privacy of citizens.

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Human flesh search could turn predatory

Human flesh search could turn predatory | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
The power of 'crowd sourcing' can spiral out of control, Web experts tell He Na in Beijing.
Loren's insight:

Not only can human-flesh search engines exploit people, but they can be related to cyber bulling as well. Additionally, there are no solid laws that are established in China to protect their citizens privacy and legal professionals are pushing for the owners of the websites where these searches take place to take "legal responsibility and protect citizens privacy".

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Stalking, with Chinese Characteristics? Human Flesh Searches Dominate Chinese Internet | eChinacities.com

Stalking, with Chinese Characteristics? Human Flesh Searches Dominate Chinese Internet | eChinacities.com | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
Loren's insight:

Katie Burkhardt gives a quick analysis of the history of human-flesh search engines, which she refers to as stalking. She brings up one very important point: the impact of this Chinese phenomenon can have dire effects if not controlled. 

 

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China’s ‘Human Flesh Search’ Engine Hunts Down Teen Who ‘Defaced’ 3500-Year-Old Egyptian Relic

China’s ‘Human Flesh Search’ Engine Hunts Down Teen Who ‘Defaced’ 3500-Year-Old Egyptian Relic | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
He was unaware or, as his parents claim, "not educated" to understand the importance of a relic that lied in an Egyptian temple for more than 3500 years when he scratched playfully on it while visiting the country as tourist with his parents.
Loren's insight:

Writer Gopi Chandra Kharel of International Digital Times tells about the story of 15-year old Ding Jinhao who unknowingly defaced an Eygptian relic and became victim of the human-flesh search engine. The serchers did not stop at identifying the boy, but also hacked into the school's website that he attended and forced vistors to "click on a message box that said "Ding has visited this place" before they could enter the website". This article has brung up the question as to whether human-flesh search engines have gone to far, exposing and criticising the 15-year old boy rather than educating him.

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Where Do We Draw the Line With Online Manhunts? -- Beijing Review

Where Do We Draw the Line With Online Manhunts? -- Beijing Review | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
Loren's insight:

This article brings up a good point about the disadvantages of human-flesh search engines: that it can ruin a persons reputation, especially if they are proven to be innocent and that you are innocent until proven guilty. The debate of whether police should involve people in the search for a possible criminal/suspect is discussed and different view points are given from authors such as Che Hao from The Beijing News.

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'Human flesh search engine': an Internet lynching? -- china.org.cn

Loren's insight:

This article discusses how citizens of China feel about human-flesh search engines, with given polls as evidence. For example, a survey in the China Youth Daily reported that 24.8% " supported legislation to restrict Renrou searches". It also points out the fact that there is no legislation enacted to protect the privacy of China's citizens and that human-flesh search engines can be, in fact, good for society according to Professor Xia Yang who teaches at the law school of Beijing Normal University.

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Human-flesh Search Engines in China - NYTimes.com

Human-flesh Search Engines in China - NYTimes.com | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
Internet users are hunting down and punishing people who have attracted their wrath.
Loren's insight:

Tom Downey discusses the cyber phenomenon taking place in China, which is called renrou sousuo yinqing (human flesh search engines).
Downey re-tells the incidents that let to the onset of human-flesh search engines, such as: 

 

The story of Wang Jiao, who was searched and exploited for killing a kitten with her stiletto heels.

The story of Wang Fei, who was outed by "Netizens" for committing adultery oh his wife, who committed suicide.

The story of a politician, who allegedly tried to molest a young girl. 

The fourth story discusses political dissent involving the disagreement between a women and Netizens over the governments actions of a 2008 earthquake that took place in China.

The final story explores a man, by the name of Feng, who wanted to seek revenge on the human search of  Diebao, but later realized that he was becoming one of the human-flesh searchers.

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China’s human flesh search engines

China’s human flesh search engines | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
While China's human flesh search engines can help reveal government corruption they can also be used to humiliate ordinary citizens, writes Judith Bruhn.
Loren's insight:

This article compares human-flesh search engines to the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, both in which fight and exploit corruption in society. Also, the freedom of expression is dicussed and whether or not it is violated.

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What Is a 'Human Flesh Search,' and How Is It Changing China?

What Is a 'Human Flesh Search,' and How Is It Changing China? | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
"In a way, this is like an ad hoc, ground-up rule of law."
Loren's insight:

Jessica Levine's article in The Atlantic gives insight of the political aspect of human-flesh search engines. For example, Yang Dacai who was the chief of the Shaanxi Safety Supervision Bureau, was dismissed from his duty in response to his carelessness of a bus fire that killed 36 people.  The image of Dacai smiling at the scene of the bus fire was spread on Chinese bulletin board services by the human-flesh searchers, as well as information about his love life and bank statements.

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Human Flesh Search Engine Part 1 of 2

The menacingly-named Human Flesh Search Engine has made headlines around the world, but it remains largely misunderstood and its deeper implications unexplored.…
Loren's insight:

Luis Tapia and Mark Schoellkopf provide numerous examples, both negative and positve, of human-flesh search engines. (Part 2 of this video requires a password to view)

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11-Year-Old Viral Video Star Placed Under Police Protection After Death Threats (Updated)

11-Year-Old Viral Video Star Placed Under Police Protection After Death Threats (Updated) | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
Earlier this week, a funny video went viral of 11-year-old Jessi Slaughter (AKA Kerligirl13) crying while her dad yelled at the people trolling her on the Internet. It's not so funny now that she's been placed under police protection.
Loren's insight:

Here is an example of a human-flesh search engine that took place in the Unites States. People involved in the websites such as 4Chan and Reddit exposed her real name and phone number on the Internet in response to a video she posted on YouTube. As a result, her and her family have been placed under police surveillance.

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The Human Flesh Search Engine

The Human Flesh Search Engine | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
Vigilantes are roaming Chinese cyberspace, laying the identities of perceived wrong-doers bare.
Loren's insight:

Chris O' Brien of Forbes Magazine examines the political side of human-flesh search engines and compares the difference between the actions taken against people in the U.S. versus the actions taken against the citizens in China for participating in human-flesh search engines. China's government have developed new ideas to prevent privacy violations, however, freedom of speech has remained an issue.

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Explainer: What is a human flesh search engine?

Explainer: What is a human flesh search engine? | They Will Find You...Eventually | Scoop.it
They can be as scary as they sound.
Loren's insight:

This article gives insight about human-flesh search engines; they were intentionally a tool used to find love and relationships, but later these human-flesh search engines developed into a manhunt outlet. This article also brings up the debate as to whether human-flesh search engines are ethical or not.

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