China's 'human flesh search' hunts down teen vandal

Angry online mob identifies shameful defacer of 3,000 year-old Egyptian relic


The full ire of China's army of online vigilantes known as the "human flesh search engine" was last week focused on a 15 year-old boy who vandalised a priceless 3,000 year-old Egyptian relic.

The Chinternet periodically gets in a right tizz when something or other is posted online and so it was when pictures of the now infamous graffiti appeared on Weibo last week.

Sparking user fury, it had been reposted 90,000 times in just 10 hours as the human flesh search engine sparked into action.

To be fair, the rather unoriginal graffiti - "Ding Jinhao was here" - gave them a pretty good lead. So it was less than 24 hrs after the pic first appeared online Ding's parents were shamed into contacting their local newspaper.

According to the Global Times they apologised to the Nanjing Modern Express that the errant middle school student hadn't been properly educated, and pleaded that society just give him another chance.

Although the maximum penalty in Egypt for graffiti-ing ancient relics is 6-12 months in the slammer or a fine of around $20,000, the incident does raise questions about the morality of an internet mob hunting down a minor.

The so-called human search engine, mobilising as it does the huge numbers of internet users in China, has been used to good effect in the past for exposing local government corruption and other rather more laudable aims.

However, it's only allowed to be effective as long as Beijing deems it useful and the authorities have no qualms about strangling online campaigns at birth if they are thought to be dangerous to the Party. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • 5G C-band rollout at US airports slowed over radio altimeter safety fears
    Well, they did say from July, now they really mean from July 2023

    America's aviation watchdog has said the rollout of 5G C-band coverage near US airports won't fully start until next year, delaying some travelers' access to better cellular broadband at crowded terminals.

    Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a statement this month that its discussions with wireless carriers "have identified a path that will continue to enable aviation and 5G C-band wireless to safely co-exist."

    5G C-band operates between 3.7-3.98GHz, near the 4.2-4.4GHz band used by radio altimeters that are jolly useful for landing planes in limited visibility. There is or was a fear that these cellular signals, such as from cell towers close to airports, could bleed into the frequencies used by aircraft and cause radio altimeters to display an incorrect reading. C-band technology, which promises faster mobile broadband, was supposed to roll out nationwide on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile US's networks, but some deployments have been paused near airports due to these concerns. 

    Continue reading
  • IBM settles age discrimination case that sought top execs' emails
    Just days after being ordered to provide messages, Big Blue opts out of public trial

    Less than a week after IBM was ordered in an age discrimination lawsuit to produce internal emails in which its former CEO and former SVP of human resources discuss reducing the number of older workers, the IT giant chose to settle the case for an undisclosed sum rather than proceed to trial next month.

    The order, issued on June 9, in Schenfeld v. IBM, describes Exhibit 10, which "contains emails that discuss the effort taken by IBM to increase the number of 'millennial' employees."

    Plaintiff Eugene Schenfeld, who worked as an IBM research scientist when current CEO Arvind Krishna ran IBM's research group, sued IBM for age discrimination in November, 2018. His claim is one of many that followed a March 2018 report by ProPublica and Mother Jones about a concerted effort to de-age IBM and a 2020 finding by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that IBM executives had directed managers to get rid of older workers to make room for younger ones.

    Continue reading
  • FTC urged to probe Apple, Google for enabling ‘intense system of surveillance’
    Ad tracking poses a privacy and security risk in post-Roe America, lawmakers warn

    Democrat lawmakers want the FTC to investigate Apple and Google's online ad trackers, which they say amount to unfair and deceptive business practices and pose a privacy and security risk to people using the tech giants' mobile devices.

    US Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and House Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA) requested on Friday that the watchdog launch a probe into Apple and Google, hours before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for individual states to ban access to abortions. 

    In the days leading up to the court's action, some of these same lawmakers had also introduced data privacy bills, including a proposal that would make it illegal for data brokers to sell sensitive location and health information of individuals' medical treatment.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022