The long short leash
Chinese authorities have announced plans to create a national reputation index. Under the scheme everyone will receive a virtue score based on observable behavior. "The Chinese government has announced a new universal reputation score, tied to every person in the country's nation ID number and based on such factors as political compliance, hobbies, shopping, and whether you play videogames."
the program will be administered by Alibaba (China's answer to Amazon) and Tencent (the country's huge, government-compliant social network). Your score will be generated not only by your activities, but by the activities of the friends in your social graph -- the people you identify as friends on social media. Your score will be decremented for doing things like mentioning Tienanmen Square or speculating on official corruption, or for participating in activities that the state wishes to "nudge" you away from, like playing video-games.
All scores are public to everyone, and high-scoring individuals will get privileges denied to their less fortunate peers, such as permits to visit (or live) in Singapore (you can't make this shit up). ...
Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like ... It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them. Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create. Anybody can check anyone else’s score online. Among other things, this lets people find out which of their friends may be hurting their scores.
There is already a similar Western system of shame and virtue rating. It is called Political Correctness and uses boycotts, doxing and ridicule etc to punish those with low ratings, and reward high scorers with talk show interviews, book contracts and such. How it works was illustrated by the experience of 9-year-old Dylan Harbin of California, who made headlines when Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read his letter saying Mr. Trump was his favorite president. After than unspeakable crime the child could not find a baker to make him a birthday cake.
The media scrambled to verify the letter’s authenticity, and the next day, The Washington Post confirmed it was sent by 9-year-old Dylan Harbin of California.
The Post reported that, when Dylan asked for a “Donald Trump cake” for his birthday, his mother “made him one herself, because she couldn’t find a bakery willing and able to do it.”
The reason Dylan can't have a birthday cake simple: too many negative points on his reputation index. It's serious stuff. Forbes reported "at least 10 students accepted to Harvard have had their offers rescinded after administrators discovered offensive posts in a private, online Facebook messaging group, the Harvard Crimson reported Sunday. " Google fired an engineer who disagreed with its diversity policies. Today you can lose your job, diploma or cake if you don't have enough points. That your reputation is in the custody of Facebook not Alibaba may be a distinction without a difference.