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Line just went Orwellian on Japanese users with its social credit scoring system

Line just went Orwellian on Japanese users with its social credit scoring system
[Photo: Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash]

It appears other countries besides China are heading toward a bleak dystopian future where a human being is scored by their online activities. Only this time, it’s a tech company and not a government implementing the social credit score. While not as bleak as China’s social credit system, today Line, Japan’s dominant social media company, introduced a slew of new products—the most alarming among them, Line Score, reports the Verge.

Line Score will use AI to give a social credit score to Line users. The strength of their social credit score will allow them to get access to better special deals and offers that Line users with lower social credit scores will not have access to.

While the new product is unnerving, it’s not completely out of character for Line. Recently the company has been positioning itself as a fintech provider, and its Line Pay digital wallet system is wildly popular in Japan. Line Pay also allows users to shop for insurance and allows them to invest in personal portfolios. Line Score builds on top of Line Pay by offering those with higher scores better perks.

However, before George Orwell rolls over in his grave, it’s important to note that Line stresses Line Score is opt-in only and that the company will never share a user’s Line Score with third parties without the user’s permission and it will not read a user’s online chats to determine their Line Score. Still, it’s unnerving that tech companies seem to think that social credit ratings are the next big thing for now. Hopefully, this is a trend that will not catch on.

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