Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beware, Renrou's watching you!

A search engine named Renrou, which literally means human flesh, is the new judge and jury of angry netizens as it virtually punishes people with unbecoming behaviour.

The search engine involves thousands of individuals, all mobilized to dig out facts and expose the baleful glare of publicity.

The Internet and conventional search engines are used for the purpose.

In 2001, a netizen posted the photo on Mop of a girl, claiming her to be his girlfriend.

However, Renrou helped other web users find out that woman was Microsoft's model Chen Ziyao, and her personal information was later used to expose that man.

A 41-year-old nurse named Wang Jue was suspended from her job when netizens using Renrou dug out her personal details while probing a video that showed her stabbing a kitten in the eyes with her high heels, and crushing its head.

There was observed a peak of Renrou searching when a husband whose wife committed suicide because of his betrayal, a man who disrupted torch relay in Paris and a girl from northeastern China who dared to criticize those affected by the massive earthquake became targets.

"Those who mistreated the vulnerable are likely to incur the hatred of netizens," Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted an online freelancer nicknamed Ayawawa, who herself was involved in a search for a disloyal husband, as saying.

"I just want them to be punished," she said, adding that according to Chinese law, such behaviour, although immoral, invite no legal punishment.

When a girl from a college in Chongqing municipality said on the Internet that the May 12 earthquake was "interesting", her mother and teacher started to receive threatening phone calls from angry netizens, forcing the girl to suspend her schooling.

The China Youth Daily recently surveyed 2,491 netizens, and found 79.9 per cent of them to believe that Renrou search should be regulated.

While 65.5 per cent thought it might become a new way of venting anger and revenge, 64.6 per cent said that it was infringing privacy, and 20.1 per cent feared that they could become a target.

Ayawawa also agreed that some targets were just scapegoats for netizens to vent their anger in daily life.

The survey also revealed that 24.8 per cent of those polled supported legislation to restrict Renrou searches.

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