There are reports coming out of China of a new personal credit rating-like system, optional for now but mandatory as of 2020, designed to evaluate individuals’ allegiance and conformity. Developed by tech giants Tencent and Alibaba, Sesame Credit assigns participants a score between 350 and 950 based on purchases, as well as other activity. So for example, repeating online an official government announcement might raise one’s score, while posting about politics or mentioning a sensitive historical event would lower it. Ordering work uniforms or appliances might raise it, while importing foreign entertainment would lower it.
The gamification of social compliance, however, doesn’t end there. A person’s score is affected not only by their own activity but also by the activity of their friends and contacts. Find someone’s dragging you down with their independence? Perhaps its best to cut them off.
And the impact of one’s Sesame Credit score, too, may be no small matter. With a high-enough score, a person might qualify for a personal loan without collateral or for a foreign travel permit. Sanctions for a low score, on the other hand, might include limitations on internet use and exclusion from certain jobs.