Friday, March 19, 2010

Human-Flesh Search Engine

It's about as creepy as it sounds: the human-flesh search engine. Vigilantes in China hunt down people with unpopular opinions and find their offline identities, including addresses, details about their personal lives, where they are employed, and where they go to school. The people they have tracked down seem to be forced to make apologies or harassed by phone or by email; there are cases where people have been fired or detained by police.

In one infamous case in 2006, a woman now dubbed “the kitten killer of Hangzhou” posted a video of herself stomping a kitten to death with her stiletto heels. China’s netizens erupted with rage and hundreds of amateur sleuths traced the video to Hangzhou, a city south of Shanghai. They discovered the woman’s name and that she had recently purchased a pair of high-heeled shoes on eBay. They attacked her until she apologized on a local government website and lost her job.

I can't say I have much sympathy for the kitten-killer, but schoolkids being detained for being insensitive jerks? Too far.

The New York Times has written a longer article on this subject.


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