You May Not Be Interested In Social Credit, But Social Credit Is Interested In You

It’s an idea that is four or five years old now, but the Chinese government is finally taking baby steps towards putting its “social credit” system into production. What is social credit, you ask? Well, it’s a system by which ordinary citizens are rated for their behavior. You can lose points for breaking minor laws, speaking out against the government, or for associating with people who do those things.

Users with high social credit get preferred placement on dating apps, free loaner bicycles, and other benefits. If your social credit is low, on the other hand, you might find yourself unable to buy a business-class travel ticket… or you might find that you have no ability to buy a ticket at all. Your children might be denied access to good schools, and you might be removed from lists of applicants for available jobs. Participation in the system is mandatory for Chinese subjects, er, citizens.

So-called “heritage Americans” rightly view this sort of thing as an utterly horrific abomination, particularly since it is backed by the government itself, but the Chinese don’t share our mistrust of social conditioning or coercive behavior. Look for Social Credit to be a massive success, both for the compliant citizens who score highly under the system and for high-ranking members of the Chinese government who will benefit from its chilling effect on potential critics or activists.

And we could leave the whole subject there, except for one little thing.

We know that “foreign” corporations will be subject to the whims of the Social Credit system, which means that even if Westerners are not individually ranked in Social Credit they will be evaluated as part of the credit rating given to their employer. It’s a nifty way to ensure that foreign critics of the Chinese government don’t have a chance to participate in the Chinese market.

It seems unlikely to think that it will stop there. In much the same way as Facebook creates “ghost profiles” of people who do not choose to have a Facebook account, there is no reason to think that the Social Credit system will not eventually expand to rate foreigners. Are you interested in visiting China? Better have good social credit. Do you want to work for a Chinese company, even if that company is an American-market pork producer? Then you’ll want to watch what you say. There are quite a few Chinese-owned American companies, from the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Waldorf-Astoria to AMC Theatres.

There is also, of course, the possibility — scratch that, the certainty — that the system will be subject to considerable error. For Americans, it’s likely to result in nothing more than some inconvenience or lost work opportunities. For a Chinese citizen, trapped in the country without the ability to buy a ticket out?

Luckily we have no such social credit system in the United States. Except we do, of course. It was just built using venture capital. We all understand now that nothing on Facebook is private, but in a world where employers are demanding access to the Facebook accounts of their employees there’s never been a better time to walk away from your veal pen in Zuckerberg’s Information Farm. Failing that, you should just create a short and sweet profile with no personal information and no political affiliations that might cost you opportunities in the future. You can be fired nowadays simply for holding conservative views — and if the rulings so far on James Damore’s lawsuit against Google are any indication, it’s perfectly legal for an employer to do so.

As for your humble author, maybe now’s the time for me to hurry up and take out a loan on a lightly-used Viper ACR. My financial credit score is way better than my social credit score is going to be.

28 Replies to “You May Not Be Interested In Social Credit, But Social Credit Is Interested In You”

  1. E. Bryant

    Yep, one can definitely see a company like Palantir happily providing such a “social credit rating” to prospective employers, government entities, insurance companies, etc.

  2. James

    When I read the headline my first thought was that you’d had a brain event. The reason for my concern is that some Canadians of a certain age identify “Social Credit” with this; “”. After reading the rest of the post, I am not sure which is worst. They all smack of whack-a-doodle socialism to me.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I saw that when I was looking up images, complete with Fifties-looking doo-wop posed pictures!

    • DirtRoads

      I learned something new today by coming here. I had FB up till 2010 but now I wonder if they kept me anyway.

  3. Ronnie Schreiber

    Twitter has banned and YouTube has suspended comedian Owen Benjamin’s accounts, simultaneously, no doubt the result of coordinated attacks by SJWs. It was apparently in response to Benjamin tweeting that Parkland student activist David Hogg shouldn’t be telling adults about gun policy when he hasn’t yet grown pubes. Edgy, yes, but really no different than saying that he hasn’t started to shave yet.

    Pubes? The little twerp probably has a way to go before actual puberty. I don’t think that Hogg’s testicles have even descended yet, let alone grow pubes, which he’d likely shave anyhow because of icky testosterone.

    In any case, since YouTube won’t let him stream video while suspended, Benjamin responded by setting up a Vimeo channel and instead of fans paying him via YouTube Superchats, he’s taking tips via PayPal, which takes a much smaller cut than Google.

    The SJWs have gone after his standup career as well, intimidating some venues into cancelling and refunding deposits. As a result, since he’s already selling tickets directly to fans, he’s not going to be announcing venues and he’ll notify them the day of the show via email.

    It will be interesting to see if he can keep his Patreon account.

    • Josh Howard

      Yeah, I’m a Patreon supporter of his for a while. The way they’ve attacked him to take away income is stunning. And yet, he’s making more and more. I fear for him. A man can only take that so long… especially when they start attacking his family. And, they have started to do that. It’s unreal and I’ll continue to support him even if I have to paypal him money monthly.

      He provides valuable comedy. His sketches on Louder with Crowder are fantastic. I don’t understand where this will end.

  4. Disinterested-Observer

    Danny Vermin voice “I used to laugh at people who say they wish they were born in a different time. Used to.”

  5. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Everything I ever read about Fecebook, Twatter, Google+ or any other social medium, makes me ever so glad I never joined them. As for the “ghost account’s”, there might be as many as 4 photos of me floating out there in cyberspace, so I guess I’m not a total mystery to them. And if anyone thinks the government doesn’t monitor social networks even here in the US, well, you might be interested in this bridge I have for sale.

    Hang on, somebody knocking on my door. Be right back.

  6. David Florida

    When you look into the abyss, does not the abyss look back? I wonder if the chap (whose name escapes me just now) who speculated that use of English would have the greatest effect on Chinese society in a thousand years will prove to be prescient. Snobbery and exclusion aren’t new, nor kowtowing…

    • sabotenfighter

      This concept existed before that ep. WeChat/Taobao/Alipay/others have been integrating the concept for years. Starting with a “popular, but optional game” to hook people into the concept of turning on friends if they have lower status. My Chinese friends abroad have been smart to avoid it, but their families back in the mainland are all into it already.

  7. Daniel J

    The Orville episode “majority rules”. A society based purely on what people think and the whims of social media.

  8. ScottS

    I just want to say thanks for keeping us informed and I appreciate the additional inciteful commentary.

    This little gem may interest you and the readers of Riverside Green. Download the scope of work for the full details. I would love to see what tech companies respond to the RFP. How many firms do you think have this capability?

    Media Monitoring Services
    Solicitation Number: RNBO-18-00041

  9. ScottS

    BTW, the 10-day response window is a clear indicator that conversations with potential bidders have been underway for some time. It is also a way to quickly move the program out of the immediate public eye.

  10. VoGo

    Thanks for informing us of this, Jack – scary stuff. It makes the Trump/Cambridge Analytica treason all the more frightening.

    • CJinSD

      Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my! Obama was the pioneer. Maybe this is why you should care about the tactics of your fellow Marxists. Whatever rights you strip and powers you forfeit to your masters will not come back when your masters change. Duh.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      It all started when he hit you back, eh? It’s different when you do it, huh?

      Savvy Obama social media experts vs treasonous data mining on behalf of Trump.

      If you had to pick between Judaism and Marxism, you’d go with Karl. Scratch that, you’ve already gone with Karl.


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