Renrou Sousou is Chinese for “Human Flesh Search Engine”. Renrou Sousou is not a specific platform or website, but rather a regularly appearing phenomenon that occurs on search engines and social networks, and depending on the individual case, can end up anywhere between trolling and a lynch mob.
As part of this, smear campaigns are launched, mainly against corrupt politicians and entrepreneurs, for which the participants will, for example, search the internet for images in which the target person can be seen with expensive cars or luxury items, in order to then publish them. The outcomes of these campaigns and the resulting public outrage have often lead to dismissals and resignations.
However, these manhunts are no longer restricted to objectively researched information about people who had previously been untouchable to the law. Sometimes normal Chinese people also end up in the crosshairs of the human flesh hunters. Worth mentioning here is a case from 2008, in which nationalists called for a hunt of “traitors” – normal Chinese people who didn’t 100% endorse the Olympic Games.
Until now the Chinese Government has tolerated Renrou Sousou. Not least because it channels public anger around the issue of corruption and splits up a fundamental structural problem into individual cases.