Perhaps the most talked about controversy in China over the last week has featured a 20-year-old Chinese female microblogger called "Guo Meimei Baby." She has stirred national outrage by flaunting her extravagant lifestyle – posting photos of villas, luxury sports cars, horses, and designer handbags to Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like social networking site – and claiming to be a general manager at a branch of the Red Cross Society.
The display of riches by a supposed charity worker piqued netizens curiosity. How had this 20 year-old become so rich, seemingly overnight? Had Guo financed her lifestyle using funds donated to the Red Cross？With these questions in mind, Chinese internet users launched a massive "human flesh search" on Guo, working together to root out any details about her and her wealth they could find. Some users even offered a 20,000-yuan reward to anyone who found and posted her real identity.
Are human flesh searches a violation of privacy, or are they an efficient tool for defending people's right to know? [Poll]
China.org.cn presents two opposing points of view.
Human flesh search would handicap the diversity of opinions
The Guo Meimei case is a clear indication that somewhere, somehow, the purpose of human flesh search engines has been lost. A search for knowledge or social justice has been replaced by a demand for retribution no matter how petty the offence.
As life in China becomes increasingly more complex and opinions and aims become more diverse, a polarization of views about the morals in society are all the more likely. It does not take much imagination to realize that one day, if human flesh searching continues along its current path, you could well find yourself being hunted by the mob. more>>
Human flesh search: an alternative route to defend the right to know in China
The Guo Meimei case can be read as a partial breakdown of a heavy deficit of democracy. Specifically, it is about Chinese people's lack of trust of big institutions but remaining confident, enthusiastic, and hopeful in rebuilding these institutions in a better way. It is about people's right to know how their money paid as taxes or donations has been used, and when such a channel of communication is absent, an alternative route is adopted to force authorities to fulfill their obligations and face people's concerns. This alternative route typically refers to people's riding on a spectacular media event and mobilizing their available online or offline resources to collectively report, investigate, and confirm a potentially breath-taking scandal. more>>