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The Cyber Manhunt Cyber Manhunt, also known as Human Flesh Search or Internet Mass Hunting is primarily a Chinese Internet phenomenon of massive searching in which numerous Internet users participate to filter the search results and assists users in clarifying their search request. It literally means to uncover the true identity of a particular person with the connected efforts of all netizens. Because of the convenient and efficient nature of information sharing on the cyberspace, the Human Flesh Search is often used to acquire information usually difficult or impossible to find by other conventional means (such as library or Google).

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Such information, once available, can be rapidly distributed to hundreds of websites, making it an extremely powerful mass media. The purposes of human flesh search vary from providing technical/professional question&answer support to revealing private/classified information about specific individuals or organizations. Because personal knowledge or unofficial (sometimes illegal) access are frequently depended upon to acquire these information, the reliability and accuracy of such searches often vary. Netizens usually use Internet media such as blogs and forums to identify and expose information of individuals to public.

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It is based on massive human collaboration. The name refers both to the use of knowledge contributed by human beings through social networking, as well as the fact that the searches are usually dedicated to finding the identity of a human being who has committed some sort of offense or social breach online. The origin of the term is disputed. One such theory is that the word was inspired by “Chicago typewriter” in the novel Ghost Blows Out the Light, which started a trend of describing manual inputting as “Human Flesh typewriter”. A more accepted theory is that the term was coined by netizens on MOP, a popular Chinese BBS.

The first recognized Human Flesh Search dated back to March 2006, when netizens on Tianya Club collaborated to identify an Internet celebrity named “Poison”. The man was found out to be a high-level government official. In the process, netizens coined the line “On the Internet, everybody knows you’re a dog”, meaning that anonymity is not guaranteed on the Internet. “If you love someone, put it into human flesh search engine, you will quickly learn everything about him. If you hate someone, then put him into human flesh search engine, you will put him into the hell. This interesting and popular saying among Internet users reveals the fact that Cyber Manhunt has double blades. Cyber Manhunt can either become an important force in punishing evil and promoting good or cause Internet violence due to wanton revealing of other’s privacy. Cyber Manhunt has become a buzzword now. On the one hand, Cyber Manhunt shows its high efficiency in searching useful information that Google and Baidu cannot rival at times. It does benefit a lot of people: it helped an amount of Wenchuan earthquake survivors to find their families and exposed Zhou Jiugeng’s offense of laws and rules.

From this point of view, it provides people with incomparable convenience. On the other hand, it also creates some problems, the most sensitive one of which is its infringement of people’s privacy. Let us take one case for example. On Feb 28, 2006, a netizen posted a video describing a woman in fashionable clothes was trampling a kitten using her high-heeled shoes, which triggered an outrage among other netizens. A human flesh search was initiated and four days later, the woman’s personal information was exposed online.

And meanwhile, it had been stipulated by law that the Internet service providers would also bear the responsibility accordingly if they were aware of malicious intention of anonymous attackers, but failed to stop the invasion. The victims are entitled to get compensation from abusers. As was expected, this newly enacted tort liability law immediately triggered a fierce argument between people, especially netizens. As far as I am concerned, if used in overhauling official corruption or porn market, I will advocate the “human flesh” search and vice versa.

In this case, the tort liability law was enacted on July 1, 2010, stating that people could safeguard their legal rights once when their reputation or privacy would be damaged by online character assassination from now on. A survey by the China Youth Daily this month showed that 79. 9 percent of 2,491 netizens polled believed that cyber-manhunts should be regulated, 64. 6 percent said it infringes upon people’s privacy and 20. 1 percent feared that they themselves would become a target. On the other hand, 65. 5 percent of those polled agreed it might be a new way to vent anger and to exact revenge. The poll also showed that 24. percent of respondents supported legislation to restrict such searches. Even though how to use Cyber Manhunt–this double-edged sword is still being in heated dispute, all we can do at present is to take positive advantage of it and avoid its negative influences as much as we can. And maybe the Internet should be regulated to create a healthy and civilized Internet environment. Some information is quoted from the following websites: http://q. sohu. com/forum/14/topic/3815353 http://english. dbw. cn/system/2009/02/02/000106678. shtml http://news. newamericamedia. org/news/view_article. html? article_id=964203448cbf700c9640912bf9012e05

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