What’s Your Social Credit Score? Asking for China

Hello, Xi Jinping? Rand? Orwell? Huxley? Anybody home?

This crooked scheme, courtesy of the kind folks at the super-centralized Chinese government, was first put into motion in 2014, where The Man assigns each citizen a “reliability” score. The goal posts range between 350 and 950 from data available to the government on people’s economic and social status.

Already in pilot phase since 2010, China will officially enforce it in 2020, at which point social credit score’s for their 1.4 billion citizens will be publicly available. Access to searchable files of every Chinese citizen that represents all the data collected from public and private companies to track their social credit will be in governments archives.

A high score gets you access to better travel deals, the ability to forgo deposits on rental properties, blue chip services, benefits such as better interest rates on loans, while a poor score could result in penalties according to the offense committed. For instance, some Chinese hospitals are starting to experiment with social credit scores, where totals above 650 allows an individual to see a doctor without lining up to pay.

Is this where big government & social media intersect?

Punishments may include a ban on purchasing first-class train or plane tickets, limiting a person’s internet speed for streaming TV shows too long, being blocked from dating sites, not being able to enroll their children in a school of their choice, sharing nonfactual articles, getting a speeding ticket, or not paying your bills on time.

In reality, this type of government overreach is a macrocosm of our current social media atmosphere. We spend so much time on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat searching for validation through clicks and likes, thus elevating our social status on a direct comparison metric of followers and content engagement. Perhaps they realized this is the only way to get our full attention?

The social justification we seek, for the most part, has no concrete value. [unless you’re working the Kylie Jenner angle and profiting off of brand deals] Yet, the addict behavior in all of us is so pervasive that Apple felt obligated to show us when, and how much, our screen time is levitating. Oh, did you think that metric was for you? That just lets them know they’re doing their job. The only difference between social media and sugar is you can’t eat the internet.

“Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.” — Ayn Rand

Big government is treating this coup like an Uber transaction, only you don’t get to rate the driver. They have full access to your rider score, as does the driver when they pick you up. That’s the neat part about Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb, right? Reviews are going to show the level of trustworthiness in both party’s involved. I don’t believe I’m breaking ground here, but yes; the Uber or Lyft driver en route to pick you up will know if you’re a handful before they arrive, how many stars you have, and any cases of verbal altercations, cleaning fee’s, or damaged interior.

Sure, the premier American social media services are free, but Google, Facebook, and Youtube already have your full consent to collect any kind of information about you. Facebook, for example, has the right to keep credit/debit card numbers, and authentication codes. Indeed, this option to have a “private” account has no legal value and it feels sketchy not knowing which companies our personal data has been potentially sold to. But hey, I’m sure Zuck isn’t dabbling in anything too nefarious with our data, right? That’s the problem with not having the two-way transparency.

Government agencies and private companies across the world are hoarding obscene amounts of data. Including, but not limited to an individual’s finances, social media activities, credit history, health records, online purchases, tax payments, legal matters, and people you associate with, in addition to images gathered from China’s 200 million surveillance cameras and facial recognition software.

“The smart city concept in China is different to the smart city concept in Europe,” says Dr Hoffman, “but that doesn’t mean that smart cities in Europe and elsewhere do not carry risks. They certainly do. There are questions surrounding the suppliers of the technology; the fact that [Chinese firm] Huawei operates in other countries carries risks – not only national security risks but also threats to civil liberties.”

If you believe the surveys coming out China saying there’s an 80% positive reception rate amongst its’ citizens since the genesis of the Social Credit System, then I have ocean front property for sale in Nevada that I’m sure will pique your interest. Purportedly, the Chinese perceive the changes as a progressive motion toward cooperative behavior and protection from fraudulent businesses. It’s no small wonder the citizens who benefited from higher social scores were more favorable of the system and had the inclination to send in their feedback. For the public zeal to continue, people will need to trust that the system is transparent and down the middle.

So . . . how long does it usually take for the socialist euphoria to wear off? I’ll hang up and listen.

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