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Human Flesh Search Engine

Definition - What does Human Flesh Search Engine mean?

A human flesh search engine is a Web-enabled phenomenon of distributed research, where many different people use a Web forum or other resource to collaborate. The term originated in China and has been translated to English.

Techopedia explains Human Flesh Search Engine

The concept of a human flesh search Engine as "distributed research," as some news outlets have called it, is a relatively esoteric way to talk about this phenomenon. At its root, it relies on individual users involved in online or virtual activities. In China, the idea of individual "netizens" -that is, citizens using the Internet - is promoted within the public consciousness, and individuals often work together using Internet forums or other venues in order to research various issues.

The most common type of human flesh search engine activity is a campaign to identify someone who has violated cultural norms. In many cases, human flesh search engines work to humiliate or punish someone who has done something unethical or unpopular.

A human flesh search engine is also a kind of virtual vigilantism that is tailored to a specific culture, in this case, the Chinese. The discussion of human flesh search engines also leads to a greater discussion on the role of the individual citizen online.
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