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Mob Rule on China's Internet 129

Posted by Zonk
from the now-that's-web-2.0 dept.
Alien54 writes to mention an International Herald Tribune article about the growing phenomenon in China known as internet hunting; Using the web to track down individuals who have violated social more or broken the law. From the article: "In recent cases, people have scrutinized husbands suspected of cheating on their wives, fraud on Internet auction sites, the secret lives of celebrities and unsolved crimes. One case that drew a huge following involved the poisoning of a Tsinghua University student - an event that dates to 1994, but was revived by curious strangers after word spread on the Internet that the only suspect in the case had been questioned and released. Even a recent scandal involving a top Chinese computer scientist dismissed for copying an American processor design came to light in part because of Internet hunting, with scores of online commentators raising questions about the project and putting pressure on the scientist's sponsors to look into allegations about intellectual property theft."
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Mob Rule on China's Internet

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  • by ericspinder (146776) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:11PM (#15449158) Journal
    Is this what happens when you keep people from looking at porn all day? Perhaps it represents the amount of time that intelligent people 'waste' discussing politics.\ Or has the Internet awoken community interest, and those discussions are just the first steps to a more open society.
    • by packetmon (977047) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:35PM (#15449309) Homepage
      A more open society, or a more open social network online? ... I wonder if some of these articles aren't just fantastic stories created by someone that made a cluster of pissed off Chinese want to go Kung Fu someone's ass. Anyhow, I was just reading about cyberpsychology which is interesting... (off topic... yup) Do we communicate more openly and honestly in cyberspace, or are we more apt to hide our true feelings and personalities? How accurate are our beliefs about how others see us can we effectively view ourselves through other peoples eyes? This chapter will explore ways that social perception in cyberspace can be better understood by applying psychological principles, research, and theory. There are three major sections. The first is an examination of the nature of computer-mediated communication CMC as viewed by several prominent theoretical models, outlining how these models assess possible sources of accurate and inaccurate perceptions online and the impact of perceptions in cyberspace on everyday face-to-face social relationships. Next, the chapter explores the role of relevant cognitive processes in the development of online perceptions, including the activation of stereotypes, self-confirmation of attributions, and the instantiation of social identity. The final section examines the problem of accurately knowing how others perceive oneself in cyberspace versus in face-to-face interactions. http://www.vepsy.com/communication/volume2.html [vepsy.com]
    • Is this what happens when you keep people from looking at porn all day? Perhaps it represents the amount of time that intelligent people 'waste' discussing politics.\ Or has the Internet awoken community interest, and those discussions are just the first steps to a more open society.

      It's actually what you get when 1.5 billion bored people get on the internet and find there's nothing really all that interesting, but, hey, you can find the names of family, old school chums and that prick who used to kick yo

    • I would mind people doing things like this less if it was just from an investigative angle (kinda of like Wikipedia, except they aren't confinded to articles but go out looking for facts etc.).

      Things like this tend to get out of control though when people jump to conclusions / and because it's so easy to fall into group think when mobbing around on emotional issues.
    • Hey! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You say that as if we here on Slashdot have never lynched a spammer.

      Speaking of which, is Ralsky still getting the junkmail he deserves, or has he moved recently?
    • As I recall, communist governments have had a habit of encouraging the populace to root out the dissenters and miscreants in their midst. And, there is some portion of the populace that will not only comply, but do so enthusicastically and perhaps use it as an attempt to demonstrate how they are themselves loyal party members keeping their own noses clean and therefore should be rewarded or promoted.
  • WikiJudge? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ajs (35943) <ajs@nOsPam.ajs.com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:13PM (#15449176) Homepage Journal
    I can just see it... "today, a man was sentenced to death after a jury of his p33rz found that he was 'fscked up.'"
  • Well.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Otter (3800) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:16PM (#15449200) Journal
    Others denounced the university for not expelling him, with one poster saying it should be "bombed by Iranian missiles." Many others, meanwhile, said the student should be beaten or beheaded, or that he and the married woman should be put in a "pig cage" and drowned.
    Well, they definitely sound ready for blogging! Too bad the story says the government has just blocked Technorati.

    Actually, the most interesting bit in there was about the plagiarism case. Too bad they didn't provide more detail -- I hadn't heard about that angle before.

    • Blogging is wonderful. Owww, I just got bit by a mosquito. mo...squi... to... RAAAWWRRR I feel...
      http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/outrage.gif [toothpastefordinner.com]
      Honestly, don't people have better things to do with their lives than argue about things that happened well over 10 years ago and that didn't affect their own lives at all? Oh, that's right, it's the internet.
  • by nickgrieve (87668) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:18PM (#15449209) Journal
    What could possibly go wrong? Because you know, everything you read on the internet is true.
  • Wait... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ObjetDart (700355) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:23PM (#15449240)
    So let me get this straight... China has some kind of anarchic version of the internet, where users post whatever they want, and are free to band together to form loose coalitions organized around common interests?

    Where can we get one of those?

    • Of course I'm sure the reality is different than as reported, the ideals presented in TFA are exactly what the internet was born to be, and in many opinions, was supposed to be.

      I just wonder where it/we went wrong.

    • No. China has developed an imitation internet using sweat shop labour. Chinese officials have described it as 'very very authentic' and are marketing it under the 'you want? you buy? all original!' slogan.
    • You must be new here.

      Discussion is dying, netcraft confirmed it.

      MOD PARENT DOWN! Kill him!!!!1111!!!

      omg ponies!!11!1 ...

      where were we?
  • There is often discussion here about how the Chinese people are oppressed by their government and that we need to take steps to give them technology to route around censorship and to eventually topple their totalitarian government. Now, I'm getting the impression that they're a bunch of busy bodies and snitches that have exactly the government that they want.
  • Isn't China ruled by Communists? When did the Mob started ruling China? Why haven't America liberated China yet? Inquiring minds want to know...
  • by Boap (559344)
    Mob metality at it's worst. This type of thing goes too far where we are letting the mob dictate morality
  • From the article, the husband's nick is Freezing Blade (I bet his 'blade' isn't getting any warmer, hehe), the cheating student goes by Bronze Mustache (Anyone else picturing a Chinese version of most 70's porn stars?) and the wife is Quiet Moon (Too... Many... Jokes...) . Sounds like the cast of an adult anime. ;-)
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:31PM (#15449287) Homepage Journal
    ... vigilantism is a bad idea.

    You hear calls for vigilante activity a lot, on the net and in the real world. And it's got lots of emotional appeal. But it always turns into mob rule, with absolutely no mechanism for protecting the innocent.
    • it always turns into mob rule, with absolutely no mechanism for protecting the innocent

      Well, if you're rich, you can just hire private security (or the police) to hang around and keep the wankers away from your front door.

      If you're not so rich, in most countries you can ask for police protection (and get it for free) until things blow over.

      Since this is China, I'm not so sure if this guy & his family can get police protection just by asking. Maybe someone living/lived in China can resolve that.

      • Since this is China, I'm not so sure if this guy & his family can get police protection just by asking

        Only if you're holding out a bag of money and smiling at the same time...

        I live in southern China - A few months ago, I looked out the window of my 9th floor apartment and happened to notice a Shenzhen Police paddy wagon parked across the street, out front of a real estate company my GF used to work for - she SMS'S to say she has to work late, as one of the other employees was arrested, and everyo
  • QFA:"Let's use our keyboard and mouse in our hands as weapons". Obviously the repressive Communist rule won't let the common people even get their hands on real weapons.
  • Oh great. Now we are going to be bombarded with amazing stories about everyday stuff simply because they involve THE INTERNET! In CHINA!

    Woo.

    Can't we go back to the 'old people in Korea' jokes?
  • Haven't people done this on SlashDot before?

    Think spammers. With the name of one of them, an address, a telephone number and even maps of his location appeared, and the subject of discussion found themselves deluged with junk mail and the like. Sackfuls. Every day.

    I cannot remember the guys name and maybe what happened was illegal and maybe even unethical, but I could see the point. It was too long ago to search for...

    • Yep, /. has done this to a spammer [slashdot.org] after he made an annoying interview bragging about how awesome he is and the only thing he has to worry about is the pile of money falling on him.

      Shortly after, someone posted his physical address and lo! he started receiving a LOT of junk mail. Like, a DOS on the postal service amount of junk mail.

  • by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:47PM (#15449378) Journal
    Being married to a Chinese national and having just come back from China I'll weigh in with a few observations. Social obligation is considered very high, but not in a legal sense. The cultural revolution of the seventies and even the Communist party of today placed/places a high value on public self recrimination as a means to redemption. Pointing out the flaws in others has been a way of deflecting unwanted attention to ones self in China for decades. I won't go into details about the personal lives of some of my wife's friends, but based on what she tells me adultery and divorce are becoming as common in China as they are in America. Violent crime may be much lower but all other forms of crime abound.

    This new internet activism is probably a reaction to the commonly held belief that social mores are going to hell in a hand basket. My wife, an agnostic like myself, wonders if there is some value in most people having Religion in order to hold the more selfish, destructive behaviors in check. It would sadden me if this is the case, but as the Chinese government lessens its control of its citizenry and with the majority having no clear religion, there has been a corresponding rise in what most consider immoral behavior, and thus the current backlash.

    Now whether the new behavior is truly immoral is a separate question, and as an agnostic one I have no firm answer for.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If history has taught us anything, it's that it's the individual, not their religion religion (or lack there of), who ultimately chooses to do good or bad. If they happen to be religious and also a bad person, they will use their religion to justify their actions. (Like what happened with The Crusades for Christians, or more recently 9/11 for Muslims.) Religion has never been something that makes someone moral or immoral. The majority of people in the U.S. say that they are Christian, but that hardly means
    • Religion may help to keep selfish behaviour in check. But, I cannot see religion as an antidote for mob mentality. In fact, we can see many notorious mobs in history are linked closely to fringe religious group. I think the root of the mob mentality is the belief that "I know the truth" (or even "I am the truth") and try to impose that upon the other. Mutual respect and acceptance to difference may probably the key....
    • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @07:43PM (#15449734)
      My wife, an agnostic like myself, wonders if there is some value in most people having Religion in order to hold the more selfish, destructive behaviors in check.

      George Washington thought so, in his Farewell Address he said:

      Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
      It is pretty well established that Washington himself was at least a Deist, if not agnostic to the point of soft atheism.

      (As an aside, here is something very interesting - as I was looking for the exact quote to cut-n-paste into this message, I ran across an article by Michael Novak slamming the ACLU and attempting to justify it with the above quotation from George Washington. Except, Novak misquoted Washington [nationalreview.com] in a fashion that hides Washington's clearly judgemental opinion of the type of people who 'need' religion.)

    • It would sadden me if this is the case, but as the Chinese government lessens its control of its citizenry and with the majority having no clear religion, there has been a corresponding rise in what most consider immoral behavior, and thus the current backlash.

      If you are implying that a Judeo-Christian religion would help them I would recommend taking a hard look at the past 2,000 years of our religion. It does nothing to stop crime nor prevents society as whole from doing horrible things to other people ev
      • If you are implying that a Judeo-Christian religion would help them I would recommend taking a hard look at the past 2,000 years of our religion. It does nothing to stop crime nor prevents society as whole from doing horrible things to other people even with the anger of god and damnation hanging over their head.

        Nothing is rather a strong word, and I think demonstrably false.

        Hanging suspected witches for devil worship...

        Witches were executed not for devil worship, but for causing harm to others. Th

        • Nothing is rather a strong word, and I think demonstrably false.

          So is the word stop. If you read it again:
          It does nothing to stop crime nor prevents society as whole from doing horrible things to other people even with the anger of god and damnation hanging over their head.

          I think what the GP meant is that religions is not the ultimate cure for crime, which is proven by history. Among other ideologies, religion has its own side effects too. One of the side effect is it sometimes encourages the socie

          • Witches were executed not for devil worship, but for causing harm to others. The devil worship was a lurid sidenote.

            You're right. Devil worship was just an excuse. The fundamental cause is fear, fear of being harmed by "witches". Fear is a very powerful human emotion. It easily overcomes the rational part of us. And religion at that time only just happened to provide something for the villagers to believe what they were doing was right despite the absence of hard evidence.

            No, actually the Church denied

            • I'm not going to blame the Church for burning witches. I'm no expert in mideval history. On the technical side, you must be right. However, all I want to say is that the crime was committed at a time when religion dominated people's mind, and that religion, with the best intention in the world, did not prevent what had happened. In fact, the religious social atomosphere at that time had released what we call the worst part of human nature. Without enough rule of law, without adequate reasoning and sympathy
    • There is a segment of the population for whom religion creates an anchor to which they can attach significance to their actions, and thus gain a moral compass. This seems particularly the case with the less educated, at least in my dealings with the various religious groups I come in contact with. (The more academic "religious" people I meet, if you query them actually have their own moral compass with which their religion happens to be compatible with. The less academic are more apt to point to "the book"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nice post and I believe correct for the most part. I am also married to a Chinese national, living in the United States. The internet mob mentality is not confined to China. It exists in the US as well among Chinese nationals. It can be found on Chinese forums such as mitbbs which is largely visited by college students as one example. I don't believe that and drastic circumstances such as the ones mentioned in the article have occurred here though. My wife and I were subjected to this same phenomenon
    • One of the reasons for this happening is that for the most part in China, the police don't give a damn. They do not have the Cop Mentality of "Let's catch bad guys" like most (but of course not all) western police do. Just getting them to open a case on anything, even the most blatant criminal behavior, is like pulling teeth.
    • Here's from my last response to an atheist thinking Religion was the solution for mores:

      I'm sure the last thing you want to do is sit in a cafe and read, but here's a couple more links: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/executedoffenders .htm [state.tx.us]
      (got remorse? nope. one of the final statements is from somebody who can't wait to meet his victims in heaven. word. I can actually admire that level of forgiveness but what does it do for bad people?)
      W's gov't funded intensive Christianity prison program increased
  • ...it seems the discussion devolves into one of indiscriminant China bashing. I say indiscriminant because it usually ends up including not only comments on the government (justified, most of the time), but also attacks on the people and culture that would get one's faced punched in if they said it to a Chinese person's face. Some of the things I have read here are as bad if not worse than what is described in the article. From an overseas Chinese student who is sick of borderline racism disguised as con
  • Blogging == Flogging?
  • It[The Chinese Government] also introduced an Internet policing system whose cartoon figure mascots show up on people's screens to remind them they are being monitored.

    Am I the only one who just imagined Clippy wearing a little chinese police hat?

    Oh no, here comes the rage blackout again...
  • ...ooooohhhh dangerous, dangerous internet......ooooohhhh nasty, persecutory chinese...
  • Mobsters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @06:59PM (#15449469) Homepage Journal
    Troll Subject not even supported by the story. Slashdot is learning too much from the mass media.

    How is that "mob" ruling anything? The people in the public investigated publicly known events. Then they used the usual power organized people have to pressure people who listen to them. Where's the "rule"? Where, indeed, is the "mob"?

    That story is interesting mainly in the power regular people are accruing in China, a Communist tyranny that favors totalitarianism. I guess if you're a Chinese Communist powermonger, the Internet and people using its open society represent "mob rule', because tyrants see the world only in the simplest, most polarized power structures.

    Maybe Alien54 and the IHT are learning more from Xin Hua, China's official propaganda publisher [xinhua.cn], and quoting the best lessons from the New York Times.
    • Re:Mobsters (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tksh (816129)

      Wait, did we read the same article?

      Someone under a pseudo-name posts accusations, a bunch of people respond and get all riled up and encourages more people to join them in their cause. A name is given and random people from all over dig up information about the guy and other random people in real life start harassing the guy and his family. All this without concrete evidence, they're just going by someone's words on the internet. Even when the original poster tries to call things off, they ignore him a

    • Re:Mobsters (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shimage (954282)

      The "mob rule" is the group of thousands applying their own brand of justice, using neither trial, jury, nor judge. I don't know about you, but when I hear "mob rule", I think torches and pitchforks, which is essentially what happened.

      It's not even like adultery is even a crime (or is it ... ). Sure, he might be a jerk for cuckolding someone (and notice that even the alleged cuckold has rescinded his accusations), but does the punishment here really fit the crime? I don't think it does in this case, and f

      • phone calls = torches & pitchforks?

        There's a vast gulf between harassment and lynching. And between lynching and due process of law, even vaster. These episodes lie somewhere between, at harassment. That's not "mob rule".
        • These episodes lie somewhere between, at harassment. That's not "mob rule".

          How is this form of harassment not mob rule? Would you like it if I create some trumped up charges against you, gather a mob, then proceed to turn your life into a living hell through harassing phone calls and posting of death threats against you and you associates? How about "We call on every company, every establishment, every office, school, hospital, shopping mall and public street to reject him."

          There's more to mob rule

          • I call that slander, libel and harassment - even assault, but not battery.

            When China's "Cultural Revolution" lynched, killed and terrorized millions with physical violence at the hands of actual mobs in the streets, that was mob rule, controlled by the mafia mob running the country. Just because something isn't "mob rule", that doesn't mean I'd like it.

            As for "due process rights", those are rules of the government. Kidnapping is not false imprisonment, and mass harassment is not "deprivation of due process"
            • When China's "Cultural Revolution" lynched, killed and terrorized millions with physical violence at the hands of actual mobs in the streets, that was mob rule, controlled by the mafia mob running the country.

              So if many mobs terrorize millions, its mob rule, but if a single mob terrorizes a single person, its "just" harassment? Tell me, then, at what point does this harassment rise to the level of mob rule? Does the guy have to be physically attacked? Are the death threats and threats of physical impr

              • Yes, the difference between threats and action is important. And the difference between a tiny percentage threatening and a substantial percentage, perhaps the majority actually attacking, changing the rules by which people live, is completely different.

                It's the difference between Nazi grafitti and defaced Jewish cemeteries, and the Third Reich. The difference between vigilante threats and "mob rule" is absolutely stark.

                Of course it is. Can't you tell the difference?
    • Sometimes I think the libertarian/anarchy majority here in Slashdot thinks that the community has no rights to dictate moral standards.

      When a guy sleeps with your wife, he is not only doing real emotional harm to you, but there is a good chance you might end up raising a child that is not your own. In the United States, anywhere from 10-30% of fathers unwittingly raise children that are not their own. In other words, the mothers were sleeping around, and very often you can't tell if a child belongs to a par
      • I agree mostly, though I expect trial by jury to enforce community standards that are encoded into expectations under law, including proof of evidence and protecting other rights of the accused.

        But I'm not sure whose behavior you mean when you say "if everyone has a "every man for himself" type mentality, well then you get the kind of behaviour you found in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina". Do you mean the behavior of the government agencies which left people to drown and fend for themselves? Or are
        • When a guy sleeps with your wife, he is not only doing real emotional harm to you, but there is a good chance you might end up raising a child that is not your own. In the United States, anywhere from 10-30% of fathers unwittingly raise children that are not their own. In other words, the mothers were sleeping around, and very often you can't tell if a child belongs to a particular father, until much later on in life if the skin color of biological father and the cuckholded father are the same.

          Can you cite

  • And you thought myspace stalkers were bad...
  • well, it isn't like Russia is so far.... /obligatory/ In republic China you cheat on wife In Soviet Russia, Bought wife cheats on you
  • Using this story, totally making the Chinese government look bad.

    Kind od a Blade Runner type tale. Bounty Hunters tracking down ordinary Chinese Citizens who are trying to learn about "freedom" on the net.

    The Ones marked for Death are those looking for a certain key phrase.

    The phrase, of course, turns to be "Tianemen massacre"
  • It's patent infringement, not "intellectual property theft."
    Theft connotes bereavement where there is none.
  • there is no reply here
    there has never been a reply here
    it has not been censored by the chinese government

    the post wasn't even from a chinese... well it wouldn't have been if it had existed... which it hasn't...
  • The piracy capital of the world cares about intellectual property?!?

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