A Black Mirror Nightmare: China Plans To Install Social Credit System By 2020

black mirror nosedive

One of the bleak scenarios in Black Mirror is about to become reality in China. By 2020, the country plans to install a social credit system, effectively rating people’s lives and their actions #mobilemagic

In three years, expect to see Chinese citizens rated for their social behavior and judged as trustworthy or not based on the same principle. Their spending habits, the way they take care of their family and the manner in which they accomplish their duties will be heavily monitored. The rank received afterwards will be public knowledge. The SCS will then affect their chances of getting a credit or their children’s educational opportunities.

Until then, China is extending an invitation to private companies to implement SCS. China Rapid Finance, partner of Tencent, and Sesame Credit, a subsidiary of Alibaba, intend to test it already. Since they have some impressive databases already, including the one from WeChat, a very popular messaging app, you can imagine the number of lives they can investigate and the sort of correlations that can be made.

Ideally, this system would encourage people to manage their investments better and improve their debt activity. But let’s face it – with so much information at the disposal of individuals in positions of power, do we really think they would stop at that objective? Maybe people would act more responsibly (knowing they’re monitored) and they’d put extra effort in building a perfect image… but whose standards would they comply to?

The answer is some arbitrary ones established by a dozen of individuals, as flawed as the rest of society. In today’s free world though, this is bound to fizzle out quickly.

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  1. JustinW

    December 9, 2017 at 11:07 am

    What exactly is the author basing this on? “Social behavior” is really broadly defined, and here its assumed to mean social interactions online, such as social media, but that’s not primarily what the social credit system is aimed at. According to the planning outline (link below), the social credit system is intended to punish “trust-breaking behavior,” i.e. fraud, academic dishonesty, hoaxes, etc. While I suppose there is the potential for it to be abused, most of the reporting on this so far has been alarmist and speculative and done by people who, like the author here, I can only assume have never even set foot in China.


    • Mara P.

      December 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for your comment! Indeed, the system is meant to punish rule breakers, but the difference between what should happen and is intended to happen and what will happen can be pretty drastic at times. In the reporting above, the objective of the SCS is stated; the ending of the article is meant to make readers, like you, ponder upon the repercussions it could have if left in the wrong hands. It is a scenario, one possible future, and nothing more.

  2. ethan

    December 12, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Hi! This is a very interesting topic! I would love to know more about it. Is there anywhere I could the source of information? Thank you very much!

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