Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weibo to the Rescue!

A few weeks ago, Chinese in Shanghai rescued over 600 cats from being skinned through crowd-sourcing techniques using the micro-blogging website Weibo. Animal rescue groups and volunteers were called to intercept the truck after a message was spread through Weibo. The cats were ultimately saved and the police became involved after the truck that was carrying the cats was stopped by the concerned citizens.

I wanted to share this story because it bares some resemblance to the netizens vs. animal rights violations instances of Human Flesh Searches from the past.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Memory of Mao Lives On

Came across a very fascinating piece on the BBC website today about a small town in China that still lives according to Chairman Mao. The town, Nanjiecun, is located in central China and offers its residents commune-style amenities such as free housing and education, and a life away from the commercialism that has overtaken China.

What's amazing about the piece is that the town has been prospering and functions as a mini beacon of hope for the ideals held up by Mao nearly half a century ago.

Definitely worth the read!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing HFS

It's been quite a while since my last update and I apologize for this blog becoming so sparsely updated. I haven't had as much time as I'd like to peruse trends on the Chinese Internet and so a lot of stories have been slipping under my radar.

However, I would like to share this one story that hits very close to home.

A few weeks ago, a 22-year-old girl named Alicia Ann Lynch from Michigan tweeted and shared a photo of herself dressed up as a Boston Marathon bombing victim for Halloween. All judgement and poor-taste aside, what interests me about the story is the backlash she received and the exact similarities it holds against HFS cases in China.

As with HFS searches in China, American netizens used her social networking accounts to gather information about the young girl. Having discovered a photo of her driver's license, netizens were able to discern her address. Within days netizens found nude photos of her and shared all of that around the internet.

Netizens then took to the comments section of an article about the girl's poor decision to share her address and the names of her employer. The girl closed all of her social media accounts in an effort to evade netizens, but that was in vain. She reopened her account briefly to tell that she had lost her job.

As with cases of HFS in China, while most netizens spoke out against Lynch, there were many who also advocated against the wave of cyber-bullying and shaming that shook the story.

What this shows is that while the internet in America is significantly smaller than that of China, human flesh searches, or crowd-sourcing movements as they're more commonly referred to in the US, can be just as dangerous and common.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Human Flesh at it Again

I want to share on a story which broke two months ago, that of a young Chinese boy who vandalized a rare Egyptian artifact at the Temple of Luxor. My love of history and deep regret at defaced pieces of ancient culture aside, this story interest me because once again the sights of the Human Flesh Search Engine set themselves upon an adolescent.

After the photo was circulated, netizens quickly re-posted the story throughout Chinese social media and without much ado, they tracked down the young man's identify (which wasn't too difficult seeing as he wrote "Ding Jinhao was here"). Shortly after, the boy's parents apologized to a local newspaper in Nanjing for their son's lack of proper education and respect.

What this story shows once more is that the Human Flesh Search and Chinese netizens do not discriminate based on age.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Master's Thesis

I've begun setting aside large blocks of my time to finally begin putting a dent into my Master's Thesis writing.  I am aiming to complete this project by the end of this spring semester so let's hope that I continue to stay on track and get some solid writing down as often as I can.

The topic for my Master's thesis is building upon my undergraduate work, again focusing on the growth of the Chinese Internet and how netizens are working to reshape the memory of the Cultural Revolution. 

Below is a short abstract for my work in progress:

Reshaping the Social Memory of the Cultural Revolution in the Digital Age

The growth of the internet in China has granted Chinese citizens a new outlet for having their voices heard, allowing Chinese to log onto the web and speak out against corruption, build movements, and rally against social injustices. Netizens, or internet users, are able to take advantage of internet anonymity to raise issues that could never been raised offline, such as environmental concerns, issues of local-level corruption, and anger at the rigorously competitive college entrance exam. With over 500 million users accessing the Chinese internet, it has become a place of political participation where social memory is discussed and transformed. This has become evident in online discussions of the Cultural Revolution, a social and political movement which took place in China between 1966 and 1976.

After four decades, memory of the Cultural Revolution is used on the Chinese internet to describe violent behaviors being shared online as a context for highlighting China’s social instability. Netizens are making comparisons between current violent acts of protest and extreme Red Guard behaviors, which evoke heavy emotions from the Cultural Revolution generation. This research argues that these tensions and reprisals among netizen groups arose from the disconnect between current uses of Cultural Revolution revivalism on the Chinese internet and the impact this has for individuals of the Cultural Revolution generation.
Specifically, this research engages with the implications and purposes of invoking memories of the Cultural Revolution on the Chinese Internet. 

Analyzing recent trends of how the internet is changing communication, this study proves that the post-1980s generation, in drawing from the Cultural Revolution, is not aware of the implications that making such connections on the internet has. Lack of education and public historiography of this decade of Chinese history is due to the government’s efforts to sweep it into the dustbin of history, having labeled the Cultural Revolution a “dark chapter” in Chinese modern history. Netizens making these comparisons are merely calling out current events as being the same as the Cultural Revolution without delving into the larger context of what that period of history means for the generations who lived through it. As such, this Cultural Revolution revivalism and re-characterization of its social memory as seen through Chinese social media has complex meanings for how China’s post-1980’s generation defines that decade of events.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

NYC Times Hacked

How fitting that just after yesterday's post on the dangers of hacking, BBC News reveals that the NYTimes has been under hacking attacks from Chinese hackers since running their piece criticizing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's family fortunes.

Beijing has been accused by several governments, foreign companies and organisations of carrying out extensive cyber espionage for many years, seeking to gather information and to control China's image.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Online Hacking

Online hacking may appear to be larger than mere individuals, affecting corporate and government websites. Even the Chinese government's websites can't protect against global hackers. But what many readers may not know is that online hacking and personal attacks against individuals is rampant on today's internet. Netizens need to be aware of the dangers of online hacking and the threat hacking can have on their personal email, banking, and social accounts.

In today's digital environment, there is nothing more dangerous or scary than having your identity stolen on the internet.

To learn more about the danger of online hacking and the benefits of having a secure password, check out this great inforgraphic produced by
Hacked Infographic

Some personal notes on hacking: I recall as far back as 2006 being an undergrad at UMass Amherst and receiving notices from the IT department to beware of email phishing scams and password theft. Similarly, I have received emails numerous times from Facebook and other social networking websites informing me that unsuccessful attempts were made at logging into my account and to ensure that I strengthen my password.

Hacking is a serious threat that deserves any netizen's full attention. A tip I learned from a friend to ensure a strong password is to create a nifty phrase, example: The quick brown fox jumps high (or one more personal to you) and create the password from the first letters of said phrase, example: tqbfjh. To ensure strength, add some numbers or symbols, example: tqbfjh90!.

I was amazed at the above infographic's statistics on how fast a hacker's computer software can ascertain your password. That's why it is essential to create a strong combination of letters, numbers, and symbols!

I'm not particularly well-versed in hacking occurring in mainland China, but I do recall news stories in the past year or so in which American government-run websites have been hacked and sources have placed Chinese hackers at the root of the hacking.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Scholarworks Update

Posting a huge thank-you to all the readers who have helped make my undergraduate thesis a well-read paper on the Scholarworks database! This past month had 39 new downloads, for a total of 318 since the paper was uploaded to the system late last spring. Last month, my paper was one of the top Asian Studies-related papers on the database.

Knowing that my research is attracting readers is helping me to chug along through my graduate thesis, which I'm currently in the process of writing.

Thanks everyone!