China’s online vigilantes hunt human flesh

Forget the FBI, Interpol or Jack Bauer. No one tracks down a miscreant as fast as China’s online vigilantes. Lin Jiaxiang, a maritime safety official from Shenzhen, recently became the latest target of the charmingly named “human flesh search engine” – the mass internet pursuit, some say witchhunt, of those accused of bad behaviour. In Lin’s case, security camera footage of his row with a man whose 11-year-old daughter he was accused of grabbing led to his swift identification and sacking.The practice is not unique to China; only the graphic name. But with the world’s largest internet population (250 million-plus, and growing each day), it has proved particularly effective here.

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