The "human flesh search engine," a literal translation of the Chinese, is a phenomenon of mobilizing the internet population to track down specific individuals or facts.
It has become a familiar term for most of China's netizens as the engine has been frequently used this year to find and punish those who are believed to have published inappropriate materials.
In most cases, personal details about those people could be post on the Internet. And in some cases, the individuals who were exposed online lost their jobs.
A debate has started recently about whether the country should issue relevant laws or rules to regulate the use of the human flesh search engine.
The Guangzhou-based Information Times quoted some experts as saying the search engine has played a role in helping to find some people who deserve to be punished for their wrong doing. After the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan, for instance, an internet user publicly defamed the State Council's announcement of a national mourning period. The engine helped to identify the individual in a quick and effective manner and the person was dealt with according to the country's law on public order.
But these experts also expressed concern about the possible abuse of the search engine, which could violate the basic rights of the country's citizens.
An article in the Beijing Youth Daily says although righteousness is a virtue, those who use the search engine should first ask themselves if they would like others to use it to perform searches on them.
The article points out that people only should resort to righteous means if they want others to know what morality and righteousness are.