Chinese Internet Vigilantism

It’s not what you think — the story of punishing “Bronze Mustache:” Mob rule on China’s Internet: The keyboard as weaponpdf

It was the latest example of a growing phenomenon the Chinese call Internet hunting, in which morality lessons are administered by online throngs and where anonymous Web users come together to investigate others and mete out punishment for offenses real and imagined.

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.