Human Flesh Search Engines in 中国

Illustration by Leo Jung

Fascinating article “Chinese Cyberposse” in New York Times Magazine about Chinese “human flesh search engine” (人肉搜索引擎 rénròusōusuǒyǐnqíng) phenomenon accompanied by wonderful calligraphic illustrations by Leo Jung.

Feng decided to get revenge on the human-flesh searchers. He and a few other users started a human-flesh search of their own, patiently matching back the anonymous ID’s of the people who organized against Diebao to similar-sounding names on school bulletin boards, auction sites and help-wanted ads. Eventually he assembled a list of the real identities of Diebao’s persecutors. “When we got the information, we had to think about what we should do with it,” Feng says. “Should we use it to attack the group?”

Feng stopped and thought about what he was about to do. “When we tried to fight evil, we found ourselves becoming evil,” he says. He abandoned the human-flesh search and destroyed all the information he had uncovered.

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