Flesh searches, the online quest for justice – Tricia Wang

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Tricia Wang

Human flesh searches, online crowd-sourced searches for corrupt officials, animal abusers or otherwise as nasty perceived people have developed into an online prosecution system, to correct a failing  offline justice, explains internet researcher Tricia Wang in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic:

“If you want to understand China right now, you should be paying attention to what its flesh searchers are doing,” [Tricia] Wang said…

“Flesh searchers feel like they are sharing information in a system that does not have a comprehensive or consistent rule of law,” explained global tech sociologist, ethnographer and 88 bar blogger Tricia Wang in an exclusive Tea Leaf Nation interview. “In a way, this is like an ad hoc, ground-up rule of law. It’s thrown together, it’s not very systematic, it can fall apart at any second—but what’s amazing is that there is no face-to-face contact and yet trust is able to form.”

Wang specifically cited the infamous and disturbing kitten-killer case.

In 2006, a video of a woman stomping a kitten to death with the sharp point of her high heel appeared on a Mop forum. With no recourse to file a formal complaint, outraged netizens took matters into their own hands and, through a flesh search, found the culprit: Wang Jiao from Heilongjiang province summarily lost her iron rice bowl (铁饭碗), a coveted government job that usually lasts to retirement and pays a lifetime pension.

“Not everyone is doing it as a response to some moral compass to the government, or for even a righteousness reason,” said Wang. “We can instead see this as a more broad manifestation of a collective response to a society that’s undergoing some major debates; the issues that people are flesh searching really reveal the things that China is going through.”

Issues, as revealed with Yang [Dacai] and his watches, often involving government conduct and corruption.

More in The Atlantic

Tricia Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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