China’s netizens are using the internet to search out information on people caught committing vile acts such as officials who smirk at the spectacle of victims in a flaming bus wreck and do nothing to assist through to wanton cruelty to animals.
These people have been caught on camera, usually camera phones, and then their images uploaded. From there hoards of netizens work to identify these people, find out their jobs, spending habits, family connections and then publish the information.
And it has proved to be remarkably effective. Officials have been canned and others charged with criminal offenses.
Humiliation is a very effective tool against the arrogant and the abusers of power. It reflects on their bosses who do not like to be seen as out of touch, complicit or incompetent.
Unlike Wikileaks the Human Flesh Search is a ground up movement which assembles information locally, rapidly and gets it out quickly.
It will not get the publicity of wikileaks but it is very likely to be a much more effective tool for change in several ways.
It holds the Rule of Law up to public scrutiny but in a way that cannot be buried in a court case, censored or ignored because those methods would only add to the story and make it bigger.
It is said “the best disinfectant is sunlight” and so it is with malfeasance and official corruption hold it up to the light and it will dissolve.
It may just be that when Chinese Officialdom sees the positive results of free access to information and the right to disseminate it they may embrace it albeit slowly.
Someone once said that the most serious offense British diplomats could make was not to secretly spy on their hosts, foment rebellion in the nation or indeed support a brutal regime; no the worst sin imaginable was to embarrass the Government.
So it is not specific to China or any Asian country; no-one likes to look a fool so maybe this will be the start of democratic change in China.
Much of the information for this blog came from an article in Tea Leaf Nation which is an excellent ezine and well worth keeping an eye on.
The article by Jessica Levine, a Johns Hopkins University graduate student, is copied in full below.