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'Human flesh search engine:' an Internet lynching?
Updated: 2008-07-04 17:36

A woman puts the small kitten on the ground and later steps on it with her high-heeled shoes and kills the cat. [file]

BEIJING -- Behave yourself in China, or you may find yourself up before a kangaroo court of angry netizens and receive a virtual lynching.

Those whose behavior is deemed wanting by enraged netizens have found their name, birthday, mobile phone number and home address researched and exposed, available for 160 million netizens who might drop you a surprising call.

When farmer Zhou Zhenglong finished faking his South China tiger photo, he never expected that netizens would find the old Lunar New Year commemorative poster he lifted the original picture from just 35 days later and expose him. After a long drawn out saga, the authorities finally came clean and admitted that the picture was a fake. Zhou was arrested.

"In finding out truth of the 'paper tiger' event, our Renrou search engine played an important role," said an Internet staffer nicknamed Yule on the Mop entertainment website.

Renrou literally means human flesh, and 'Renrou search engine', the 'human flesh search engine' is not the search engine familiar from Baidu and Google, but the idea of a search engine employing thousands of individuals all mobilized with one aim, to dig out facts and expose them to the baleful glare of publicity. To do this they use the Internet and conventional search engines.

The model has some similarities with Wikipedia and Baidu Knowledge, which both attract 10 million clicks every day, and which pool answers from netizens to a question.

By its narrow meaning, Renrou search started in 2001, when a netizen posted the photo on Mop of a girl, saying she was his girlfriend. Some others soon found out that the beauty turned out to be Microsoft's model Chen Ziyao and publicized her personal information as proof that he was lying.

The term became a catchword in 2006, when in February, video of a woman stabbing a kitten in the eyes with her high heels and crushing its head stirred rage of netizens.

People analyzed the background of the video, and someone soon located the place as in a county of northeastern Heilongjiang Province. Less than a week later, information about the woman, including her real name -- Wang Jue, a 41-year-old nurse, and the fact that she divorced was dug out. Wang was later suspended from her job.

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