Crowd-sourced detective work and menace. The internet empowers people in a way not seen before. Imagine just being on Facebook, somehow attracting the hatred of your community, and being run out of town?
“Versions of the human-flesh search have taken place in other countries. In the United States in 2006, one online search singled out a woman who found a cellphone in a New York City taxi and started to use it as her own, rebuffing requests from the phone’s rightful owner to return it. In South Korea in 2005, Internet users identified and shamed a young woman who was caught on video refusing to clean up after her dog on a Seoul subway car. But China is the only place in the world with a nearly universal recognition (among Internet users) of the concept. I met a film director in China who was about to release a feature film based on a human-flesh-search story and a mystery writer who had just published a novel titled “Human-Flesh Search.””
“The focus on censorship also obscures the fact that the Web is not just about free speech. As some human-flesh searches show, an uncontrolled Internet can be menacing as well as liberating.”