Cyber vigilantism, transmedia collective intelligence, and civic participation

Pauline Cheong, Jie Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Emerging media afford netizens the opportunity to participate in critical civic discourse by collaboratively constructing and sharing previously inaccessible information across multiple platforms. This paper examined the communicative behaviors constituting the recent phenomenon of cyber vigilantism (human flesh search) in China, particularly how emerging media have been appropriated for online searches to hunt for personal information about social deviants to restore public morality. Our findings suggest that the identification of corrupt officials and circulation of their private data online amplified attention on their abuse of power and pressured the authorities toward greater accountability. Blogs, forums, and social networking sites helped support the expression of alternative public opinions. Novel mash-ups further stimulated the transmediation of political parodies that challenged state discourse across video-sharing sites. This article concludes with implications and recommendations for critical and comparative research toward a broadened and culturally nuanced notion of civic participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-487
Number of pages17
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Civic participation
  • Collective intelligence
  • Cyber vigilantism
  • Emerging media
  • Human flesh search
  • Online social networks
  • Transmediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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