China's Internet Hunters Battle Morality One Mob At A Time
from the she's-a-witch-she's-a-witch dept
The internet is many things; one it does really well is be an angry mob. Fuelled by a high degree of anonymity and a general lack of accountability, people have no trouble piling on those who offend the general consensus, dare question certain online personalities or commit other transgressions. Apparently this sort of mob justice is hugely popular in China, where people engage in “Internet hunting” to dole out lessons in morality and even mete out punishments. For instance, one man, known as “Freezing Blade” thought his wife (“Quiet Moon”) was having an affair with a student (“Bronze Mustache”). He posted a letter online denouncing the student, which led to tens of thousands of people hunting down his real name and address, with some even harrassing him at his parents’ house and the university he attended before dropping out in the face of the attacks. Internet hunters also helped expose a Chinese researcher who faked his work, and while they were “right” in that case, the rise of this online vigilantism that carries over into the real world is a little worrisome. People often do things online they’d never contemplate doing in real life, but the safety of the mob is emboldening people to let their aggressive behavior cross over into the physical world. But what happens when they get their facts wrong, as appears to have happened in the case of Bronze Mustache. It’s easy to get the mob fired up and going, but it’s much harder to stop it.