China’s Orwellian “social credit” system is undergoing a new round of scrutiny after an outlandish announcement aboard a bullet train surfaced on Twitter.
The video was taken on a Beijing-Shanghai bullet train by a freelance journalist and publicized Monday by Business Insider. A voice warns passengers in English that they will be “punished” if seen behaving in a disorderly way.
The voice also threatens that incidents “will be recorded in individual credit information system.”
An Oct. 29 Twitter post shows the creepy announcement (delivered in English).
Here’s a dystopian vision of the future: A real announcement I recorded on the Beijing-Shanghai bullet train. (I’ve subtitled it so you can watch in silence.) pic.twitter.com/ZoRWtdcSMy
— James O’Malley (@Psythor) October 29, 2018
According to Business Insider, the communist giant’s “social credit” system rates citizens based on their good or bad behavior. Poor driving and smoking in the wrong area can both earn you demerits from the system.
A low score can be hard to shake. It can affect travel, job prospects, and college admissions. Internet access can even be completely revoked if certain online crimes are committed.
Unfortunately, China isn’t the only place giving concepts like social credit scores a try.
Facebook has already rolled out its own internal version on American soil, the The Washington Post reported in August.
Instead of being focused on societal standing, Facebook’s system gives users a secret score based on their reactions to news stories. Users who flag the correct content are rated as more trustworthy.
With the growth and integration of Facebook across multiple platforms, a wider implementation of the company’s scoring system may be almost inevitable at this point.
As its described in the Post, Facebook’s efforts come across as an honest effort to ensure content on the platform is being monitored in an honest way.
However, Facebook’s ugly, well-documented history of bias against conservatives put the effort in a whole different light. The company has been in the crosshairs of leaders in Washington, D.C., ever since reports broke of its near-systematic censorship of conservatives.
An impartial assessment of a conservative by Facebook seems to be a dubious proposal at best.
If China’s implementation of the social credit system has anything to teach Americans, it’s that the system doesn’t work for anything besides stoking fear.
The system is ripe for abuse, and gives the government one more incredibly powerful tool in the fight against freedom.
Unfortunately for Chinese citizens, hope to elect change is slim in the one-party state.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.