The judges, Lord Jim O’Neill, Chair of Chatham House, Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary- General’s Envoy on Youth, and Tim Bradshaw, Global Tech Correspondent of the FT, selected this entry by Sarah Tan.
On February 24, 2020, a piece was published on AO3, the world’s largest fanfiction website, that portrayed Xiao Zhan, a male Chinese star, as a transgender salon girl. Instantaneously, a group of Xiao’s fans swarmed to accuse the author of feminizing Xiao and devastating his public image.
An online anti-smear campaign began. Enraged fans waged a cyberwar against AO3 on multiple social media platforms and tirelessly reported it to government authorities. Five days later, AO3 was blocked in mainland China.