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'Human flesh search engine': an Internet lynching?
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Ayawawa also agreed that some targets were just scapegoats for netizens to vent their anger in daily life.

"For instance, we see many disloyal husbands and adultery happens every day. Wang Fei's case gave us an occasion to attack those immoral," she said.

Internet gave people a disguise, and power without the responsibility that should come with power. Nobody knows who you are and people don't have responsibility for their conducts, said an Internet professional, who declined to be name for fear that he might suffer a roasting at the hands of the 'human flesh search engine'..

"I am sure that many of the attackers of Wang Fei are his colleagues or even friends, who have access to Wang's personal information," he said, admitting that to achieving high clicking rates, some websites deliberately fanned people's fury and fueled their desire to search.

"Netizens should be cautious online, especially when registering, don't give out your personal information," he added.

According to the survey by China Youth Daily, 24.8 percent of those polled supported legislation to restrict Renrou searches.

However, Chai Rong, a law professor with the Beijing Normal University (BNU), said that even if the law was drafted, it would be hard to enact.

"Take Wang Fei's case, you can't decide who played a more important role in ferreting out his information. In fact, every netizen contributed to the result. As for the girl condemning the earthquake victims, her behavior deviated from social ethics and she would be accused anyway."

Xia Yang, associate professor with the law school of BNU, suggested that real names be required when surfing on the Internet.

"Currently we have no legislation protecting people's privacy in China," he said. "On the other hand, Chinese netizens are not mature enough to control their own online behavior."

He pointed out that Renrou search nonetheless played an important role nowadays. For instance, after the earthquake, many anxious people contacted their relatives in Sichuan, where the epicenter was, in this way.

"In Chinese we say 'more helpers make the job easier'. More people could help resolve the conundrum that no single person could handle," said Xia. "Actually Renrou search reflects development of society and the popularization of the Internet," said Xia.

In a way, Renrou search could be a way of monitoring which brings to light some blind spots that governments and media might miss, like in the case of the "paper tiger", he said.

Meanwhile, it could remind people to behave themselves all the time, if they don't want their personal information revealed in broad daylight, said Ayawawa.

Mop is founding its union for Renrou search.

"We started recruiting talents and rewarding them with virtual currency in May," said Yule with Mop. To date, more than 100 people have been selected for the activity. Standards for selection are capability and morality.

Yule also revealed that they are drafting a Renrou search pact, which would be amended by legal experts.

"It is our honor to help others seek happiness and our shame to leak out their privacy," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 5, 2008)

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