Okay, FIRST, remember that journalists are compulsive liars that make up most of the news while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs and possibly Satan. Also bear in mind that this is the same profession known to run corporately-produced advertisements as genuine news stories. They're the people that told us Hot Coffee was a genuine societal concern and the Columbine massacre was entirely the fault of Doom. This is the industry that includes Australia's Nine Network.
Now, with that in mind, and ignoring the inherent irony in my villifying the media with gross generalisations based on non-representative incidents, turn your attention to this article from the New York Times, entitled "Mob Rule On China's Internet: The Keyboard As Weapon".
Apparently a spontaneous Chinese lynch mob has formed to engage in real-life harassment of a student suspected of carrying on an affair with his professor's wife. The student in question has had to barricade himself in his house to escape this crazed band of netizens. The crowd, who have apparently never previously met the individual, have called for him and his lover to be placed in "pig cages" and drowned.
"It was the latest example of a growing phenomenon the Chinese call Internet hunting, in which morality lessons are administered by online throngs and where anonymous Web users come together to investigate others and mete out punishment for offenses real and imagined." (link)I have the grave suspicion that these spontaneous lynch mobs are the Eastern equivalent of those hordes of kids you see running round killing people because of Grand Theft Auto. You'll note in this case that the Chinese citizens in question apparently met up in a World of Warcraft forum. Spontaneous agreement to form a real-life lynch mob? Please! It's hard enough forming a 40-man in-game raid! Have you ever known WoW players to agree on anything beyond being annoyed at queues and lag?
Anyway, while my disbelief runs high, file this one under, "Fascinating if true".