There’s an episode of the Orville — a kind of tongue-in-cheek parody of Star Trek — that explores what a society would look like if your place in society was based on your social media status. Think of what life would be like if the number of thumbs up versus thumbs down you have affected where you could work, where you could shop, how you were treated… and could even ultimately land you in jail.
It’s pure science fiction.
But 2020, it will be a reality in China.
China has rolled out a program where every citizen will have a mandated social credit score.
The score will be based largely on online behaviors. What you buy, what sites you visit, and the things you say on social media will determine your score.
Those with a good score—“the trustworthy,” according to the Chinese state — will be given extra privileges.
The “discredited” will find it hard to function in society. They won’t be able to enroll their children in good schools, they’ll be passed over for promotion (if they are able to land a job in the first place), and if their score drops low enough, they may be imprisoned.
The Chinese government envisions a system that will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
Yes, that’s a quote.
Of course, this is happening in China. Do we really need to worry about it here?
With the amount of data that social media networks gather and our government’s propensity for sticking its nose into that data and using it inappropriately… I’d say yes. Be worried.
And be extra careful with your privacy settings — including the most important one… good ol’ commonsense about what you do and don’t say when you’re online.