‘Black Mirror’ Is Coming True at a Chinese Company That Rates People’s ‘Social Credit’

Alipay assigns users a three-digit score that "covers the whole society."
Bryce Dallas Howard in Black Mirror

In yet another case of life imitating art, a Chinese “super app” called Alipay is now assigning users a three-digit score that works as “credit for everything in your life.” Known as Zhima Credit, it ranges between 350 and 950 and is meant to assess people’s worth on a wide-ranging scale — not unlike what we saw in “Nosedive,” the first episode of “Black Mirror” season three. Wired has a lengthy writeup on Zhima Credit, a project of the company Ant Financial meant to serve as a “credit system that covers the whole society.”

“Zhima Credit is the embodiment of personal credit,” reads the signup text. “It uses big data to conduct an objective assessment. The higher the score, the better your credit.”

Ant Financial CEO Lucy Peng has said that Zhima Credit “will ensure that the bad people in society don’t have a place to go, while good people can move freely and without obstruction.” One person’s journey: “After starting at 600 out of a possible 950 points, he had reached 722, a score that entitled him to favorable terms on loans and apartment rentals, as well as showcasing on several dating apps should he and his wife ever split up. With a few dozen more points, he could get a streamlined visa to Luxembourg, not that he was planning such a trip.”

Scores are color coded, meaning that someone with a 710 sees a calming blue background on the app and someone with a 550 will be greeted by an “alarming” orange tone. “They will check what kind of friends you have,” one woman told the author. “If your friends are all high-score people, it’s good for you. If you have some bad-credit people as friends, it’s not nice.”

Read the full article here lest your score drop down to the 400s.

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