China’s social credit system awards and punishes citizens according to their social credit score. This number, ranging from 350 to 950, has serious implications for the Chinese.
Most recently, people around the world are learning how China banned 6.15 million people in 2017 from buying plane and train tickets for up to a year if their social credit score was too low. However, those with poor social credit scores suffer additional consequences.
The Chinese government developed the social credit system with a handful of companies, including one called Ant Financial, as key players. Wired reported that Ant Financial operates Zhima Credit, which is integrated with AliPay. China Daily noted that 520 million people use AliPay, which means Zhima Credit has a huge user base. The company explained their goal.
And indeed, that’s how it’s working. And it’s not just physical mobility, either, but also social mobility. After all, the Chinese government is calling this a “social systems engineering project,” according to Science Magazine.
If your score is poor, you have to pay a deposit before renting a bike or hotel and are denied access to free services, like umbrella rentals. You also can’t buy tickets to ride nice trains or reserve a night in a luxury hotel. Also notable is that those with poor scores cannot access social services.
On the other hand, people with good scores can skip security checks at the airport, have better visibility on dating apps, and enjoy expedited access to travel visas.
Another important factor that affects scores is your friends’ scores. If your social credit is poor, for example, then you can negatively affect your friend’s score. This means that someone with a good score is better off unfriending people with bad scores.
There are many reasons for low social scores. You can be penalized for offenses like spreading false information, including spreading online rumors, and for smoking on a train, according to Reuters. Regular credit score penalties apply too, like unpaid debt. And here’s some bad news for gamers: The Guardian said that buying video games lowers social scores.
The scores are providing the government with enough data and information to “monitor public opinion and gauge crowd behavior.”
Since the exact algorithm and factors that influence a person’s social credit score is kept secret, it’s hard to know what other behaviors can lower a someone’s score. Either way, one thing is clear: a low score means a less mobile lifestyle.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 20th, 2018