Life Imitates Netflix: China’s Plan for “Social Credit”

I’m very late to the game here, but I finally got around to watching the new season of Black Mirror on Netflix last night. If you’ve never seen Black Mirror, it’s basically Twilight Zone meets the Internet. “Nosedive“, the first episode of the show’s third season, is set in a dystopian near-future where everyone is constantly being rated by their peers, with very real implications for the goods, services and even people they are able to access.

If you find such a premise to be a bit far-fetched, you might be surprised to find out that a similar rating system is in use right now in mainland China.

The Chinese government is calling it “social credit”; as The Washington Post reports, the reasons behind it are fairly pragmatic:

At the heart of the social credit system is an attempt to control China’s vast, anarchic and poorly-regulated market economy, to punish companies selling poisoned food or phony medicine, to expose doctors taking bribes and uncover con men preying on the vulnerable.

Here’s the scary part: social credit is being expanded from businesses and professionals to the rest of the population. Enrollment in the social credit system could be mandatory as early as 2020.

One initiative to get China’s 700 million Internet users to embrace the idea is Sesame Credit, a joint venture between Alibaba, Tencent and, of course, the Chinese government. I found an excellent analysis of Sesame Credit on, of all places, a YouTube gaming channel:

If you thought social media was already bad, gamifying obedience will surely make it much, much worse.

Source: Washington Post

One comment:

  1. I was a victim of hate crimes by CSIS/RCMP/CSEC with a major disability created by private sector, Canadians and government. I am asking the minister of public safety and Prime Minister to launch a public inquiry and give me financial compensation for over 30 years of torture and abuse of power. MY file was declared top secret by SIRC the watchdog for CSIS when I filed a complaint in 1989. I want justice.

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