Grassroots risk reduction tactics took new forms in the era of social media. Chinese netizens mobilized human flesh searches (HFS), or cyber vigilantism, to reduce the risks posed by international travelers who might import the H1N1 flu virus into China. My study suggests that at the beginning of the H1N1 flu epidemic, rigorous transmedia intervention efforts were made to discipline the early irresponsible overseas Chinese who traveled extensively after arriving in China, but much less attention was paid to risks posed by foreign travelers. The grassroots risk tactics employed emotional appeals, valuative judgment, and moral condemnation to criticize the irresponsible travel of the earliest imported H1N1 flu cases. These transmedia risk tactics got quickly appropriated by regional and national governments to reduce alienation of overseas Chinese and to discipline overseas returnees. Analysis of the HFS episodes reveals the need to create an interface of interaction between authorities and the public for open systems of communication and to consider local public health practices, emotion needs, and values and beliefs when designing health risk communication messages.
"Grassroots Emergency Health Risk Communication and Transmedia Public Participation: H1N1 Flu, Travelers from Epicenters, and Cyber Vigilantism,"
Journal of Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization: Vol. 3
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/rpcg/vol3/iss1/2