China Social Credity System, Part 1 of 3

In this series, Yu-kai analyzes the social credit system coming soon in China from the perspective of Octalysis design.

Today, we’re gonna talk about a fairly well known controversial global issue, which is China’s social credit system. So, for those who don’t know, China wants to have what some people call the biggest gamification experiment or implementation in history. They want to turn ‘being a good citizen’ into a game. In actuality, it’s kind of like a financial credit score system.

The Chinese government is trying to measure how good of a Chinese citizen you are. Are you patriotic? Are you paying your loans? This has been hugely controversial because the whole world sees that it’s like ‘Wow, that’s Orwellian.” 

One of the examples people like to compare this to is a Black Mirror episode where everything in life is also measured by your social score where people rate you, your rating is too low, you can get locked out of renting a car or getting a mortgage. 

And in this Black Mirror episode, the dystopian scenario crashes down upon this lady who is so obsessed with getting a high score that she kept doing things to promote it, but ended up losing out. 

China system, right, it’s very interesting because it doesn’t just measure your financial credit score it breaks your credit score in five categories. Kind of like the attribute webchart we talked about in gameful education.

Background Characteristics

The first is your background characteristics. Who you are. The school you came out of. So that’s just your identity, right, that will give you a score. 

Preferences and Tendencies

Next, you have your preferences and tendencies. So, what kind of hobbies do you like? Do you like hobbies that support the Chinese government? If you buy a lot of products from overseas, your score actually lowers. So, that’s it. 

Financial Reliability

The ability to pay back your debt, and how trustworthy and reliable you are, so it’s basically or literally how well you can pay on time.

Interpersonal Connections

And then there are your personal connections. So this is actually probably the most controversial one, because, basically, is your friends and family have a low score, then you will have a lower score too. So you really have two options. If you notice, people are doing things that are not patriotic and they’re low, and low scores, then you have two options. Number one is to disassociate yourself. You know, don’t interact with them at all because if you interact with them you’re gonna decrease. Or, you got to convince them to be a good citizen again, don’t badmouth these events. Right. And so, that becomes a very stressful time where people would perhaps trust each other less because they don’t want other people to know that internally they’re feeling, disgruntled about something but they can’t let anyone else know. 

Credit History

And then finally, the last point is your credit history. Normal financial credit history, and then all these five characteristics combined into one total score. And this score, China, they deploy the social throughout China in 2020, but I think I saw reports delay they wanted to late 2021, but they have experimented and have ongoing experiments in many different places now so this is actually real implementation. 

Implementation and Results

So far, 23 million people have been discredited or barred from traveling. I think about around 17 million couldn’t buy plane tickets anymore and 5 or 6 million people are unable to take the train. And so the idea is that hey if you are not worthy, right, you don’t have the credit. You’re in the country, then you shouldn’t be traveling go to damage control, quarantine you almost. 

And one very interesting story is that there is a Chinese actress barred from boarding an airplane. She walked to the airport computer screen with checkout and showed that she had a low score because she was guilty of defaming her boyfriend’s ex-lover. And she did not apologize. So, they didn’t let her on the plane because she had a bad citizen behavior and she couldn’t get on the plane. And then, once she apologized to her boyfriend’s ex-lover, that ban was lifted and then she could go take planes after that. 

So, again, some people think it’s crazy and ridiculous how our government would prevent you from using, transportation, based on what you say about someone else, you might think “that feels like a complete lack of freedom and China is obviously trying to monitor more people.”

So, I think as of now, there are over 200 million video cameras on the streets and alleys of China, and China’s goal for this year is actually have over 626 million cameras deployed throughout 2020. In comparison, there are only about 330 million people in the US, so they literally want twice the amount of Americans in cameras in China, and there are about 1.4 billion people in China, pretty generous and still only about one camera for every two citizens so it’s not so bad, right. They didn’t think that every Chinese citizen needs one camera, a very controversial thing that’s going on. 

What if you have a good score?

And, oh, and of course, if you do well if you have a high credit score, then you might get rewarded with discounts benefits special opportunities and whatnot. And so, that’s the part that is controversial I want to talk about that and then we’ll talk about how the Chinese people. And surprisingly actually the Chinese people really like it. And then we’ll move into the actual design itself. Is it a good or bad design?

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