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‘Black Mirror’ Meets Reality: China Moves To Rate Its Citizens Using A ‘Social Credit System’

China has implemented a social ranking system that’s set to become mandatory in 2020, and it sounds eerily familiar to a Black Mirror episode.

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Can you imagine a rating system being fully implemented into society that is not only meant to establish your “trustworthiness,” but is available for everyone to see? Well, China is seriously considering doing just that, as detailed in the State Council of China‘s document published in 2014 called “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System.”

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Though this hierarchal system is currently voluntary, it is set to become mandatory in 2020. If you’re getting sort of a deja-vu feeling, that’s totally understandable. The system China proposed sounds eerily similar to an ominous social rating system featured in an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror, which depicted a chilling Big-Brother-type, social-media-obsessed future.

China Plans to Implement Social Rating System by 2020

First, let’s review the details of China’s social rating system, called the “Social Credit System” (SCS). Try to envision a world in which you’re constantly monitored, judged for your actions, and literally evaluated based on every choice you make and action you take.

There will be different categories that you’ll be ranked on, including behaviour, personal preferences, and interpersonal relationships. From the people you hang out with to the amount of time you spend on social media and playing video games to the types of purchases you make and how much debt you have, the world will know. You can say goodbye to privacy under SCS, because Big Brother is stepping in to monitor your every move.

Of course, a lot of this already happens. Many governments including the U.S. already spy on their citizens, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram collect an overwhelming amount of information on you, and Google is secretly recording pretty much everything you do. Google keeps the texts/videos you send and literally tracks your every move thanks to your trusty Google Maps app (read more about that in our CE article here).

The primary issue with the rating system is, not only are they monitoring citizens even more than they do currently, which is already a substantial and arguably inappropriate amount, but they’re labelling their actions as “positive” or “negative” as well. Should we really be comfortable allowing the government to dictate what’s right or wrong?

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Sure, there are certain laws that are in place for a reason, but ultimately the government does not always operate in favour of society because they often put the needs of corporations over the needs of their own citizens. Laws are often heavily influenced by corporations whose main goal is profit, not the betterment of humanity as a whole.

Many governments allow corporations like Monsanto to fill our food supply with carcinogenic herbicides, they let Big Pharma influence their drug approval processes and advertise drugs to the public, and they allow the meat and dairy industries to dictate what their food guides deem healthy for our bodies, despite going against doctors’ recommendations.

This is precisely why rating systems in societies could pose a huge problem: We all have different moral compasses. Much of what the government does, you may not support. So, what happens when you voice your opinion, particularly if it goes against the government’s regime, in hopes of inspiring positive change within society? Well, you could get a lower score, rendering you ‘less trustworthy’ and ultimately affecting your ability to get a mortgage, a job, a loan, etc.

Of course, you could decide to speak out against them, and hope your rating wouldn’t affect your overall wellbeing, but how would that affect your friends’ and family members’ ratings?

The Chinese government has described the system as a method to improve trust nationwide and cultivate a culture of “sincerity.”

The policy reads, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

According to the policy documents, if you receive a low score on the SCS, then you could face the following penalties:

  • You won’t be eligible for positions in public office
  • You will no longer have access to social security and welfare
  • You’ll face stricter regulations and “frisking” at Chinese customs
  • You’ll won’t be able to apply for any senior level positions in the food and drug sector
  • You won’t be able to sleep in a bed in overnight trains
  • You won’t be able to stay in higher-starred hotels and restaurants and will have more difficulty travelling
  • Your children could potentially suffer because they won’t be allowed to attend more expensive private schools

It’s very clear that this ranking system could create a lot of separatism and division, and allow the elite to gain even more special treatment than they already enjoy. This type of hierarchy is in no way conducive to equality, or a society that allows love to lead their decisions. We do not need to implement social ranking systems in order to increase sincerity within society; we simply need to have more compassion for other people and treat them like equals. 

The rating systems could seriously halt our personal growth, innovation, and thirst for knowledge as well. The government would be able to see exactly what books you’re reading and what you’re researching, and if it goes against the grain or challenges the current regime, then you could end up with a lower score. How are we going to be able to grow as a society if we don’t question the status quo?

We learn to improve ourselves by challenging the current norms and by stepping outside of our comfort zones. Renewable energy sources seriously threatened big oil and the government, yet this field was able to grow and advance because experts challenged our current energy system. We have made extreme advancements in health care because people found flaws in previous practices and had faith that they could improve them. This can be applied to quite literally every single industry, which is why these ranking systems could negatively affect growth, innovation, and our entire economic system as a whole.

If we can no longer challenge our current state of being and question our surroundings, then how can we continue to advance as a collective? As a collective, many of our strengths lie in our differences. A diverse society includes people with all different strengths and brackets of knowledge, but if we’re all racing to get a better ranking, then we could lose a lot of those differences in trying to become “people pleasers” and adhering to social norms.

How much could we be penalized for our creativity and forward-thinking under social ranking systems? It’s difficult to say. Perhaps there would be some benefits from this particular system being implemented in China, but until it is fully mandatory, we have no way of knowing the exact outcome.

China’s Social Ranking System Sounds a Lot Like This Episode of Black Mirror

Interestingly enough, an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror could give us some insight into how social rating systems could play out if they become mandatory in the future. If you haven’t watched Season 3 Episode 1 of Black Mirror yet, titled “Nosedive,” I’d highly recommend you check it out! The best part about this show is that you don’t need to watch the episodes in order, so even if you’ve never seen the series, you can still watch this episode without feeling lost.

The episode is entirely based around a social ranking system that had been integrated into every aspect of society, similar to what China plans to implement widespread by 2020 (though much more technologically advanced).

The episode focuses on a single social media platform that allows users to rank one another. The higher your ranking on this platform, the higher social class you find yourself in. Your score determines your livelihood: your access to services, your trustworthiness, your value, and your employability.

Your scores can also increase or decrease astonishingly quickly. You could lose so much in an instant, thanks to only a few people disliking you. You’re having a bad day, or perhaps you’re struggling with your mental health? Well, that could cost you your score, too.

The irony of this social ranking system was that it forced people to become insincere and disingenuous. Rather than improving their sincerity like China hopes their program will, it ended up encouraging people to simply play a “number’s game,” striving to please others and doing anything they could to fit into society’s norms.

The social ranking system depicted in Black Mirror just forced people to kiss up to higher-ups, making their lives one big popularity contest. The problem with this mentality is, if we’re not willing to challenge our superiors and “the popular kids” and speak up when we have genuinely innovative ideas or when we know something is “wrong,” then we cannot grow as a collective.

Another issue with this form of social ranking is that people could start to value themselves based on their numerical ranking and how society views them. The entire point of self worth is to determine how much you value yourself, not how much other people value you. It’s called self worth for a reason; you should not measure your worth based on society’s standards, but rather your own standards.

Final Thoughts 

We’re human beings, we often make mistakes, and in fact making mistakes can be a really beautiful part of life because we can turn our “mistakes” and “failures” into learning and growth opportunities. But, what if those mistakes became public? Would we be willing to take as many risks?

Although there could be some upsides to implementing a social ranking system, the risks far outweigh those potential benefits. So many of society’s problems today stem from our vying for social status and power, or from people holding their status over others. We certainly don’t need to add to this by further increasing separatism.

We need to encourage people to express themselves freely, question everything, and drop the fictitious barriers that social statuses create. We’re all human beings and we’re all equals, regardless of our social class or potential future social rankings.

If people start to value themselves based on a ranking system that may not even be “fairly ranked” to begin with, we will not become more sincere, we’ll just end up improving our “people pleasing” skills. We need to encourage others to go within to develop their self worth and build up their self love as well as express their creativity and their views; otherwise, we’ll end up regressing as a society instead of progressing.

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Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested By FBI on Charges Connected To Jeffrey Epstein

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What Happened: Jeffrey Epstein’s confidant Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested this morning in New Hampshire according to FBI spokeswoman Adrienne Senatore. At this time, charges against Maxwell are sealed, and prosecutors have scheduled a midday press conference in New York to provide more details on the case.

Charges against Maxwell came almost a year after Epstein was arrested by FBI agents on July 6, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein allegedly killed himself in a federal jail in August 2019, although many believe he was killed given he could name many high profile figures connected to his ring.

Why It Matters: Maxwell is heavily connected to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein who operated a sex/pedophile ring that tailored to high profile individuals, business people, entertainers and politicians.

Her arrest may be important in helping to bring down more people connected to the ring which include Hillary and Bill Clinton amongst other high profile names.

The Takeaway:

Humanity is in a process of ‘Breaking the Illusion’ we have come to accept about our reality. We have been living from a collective story that states we elect good people into government, and they act on our best interest. This categorically is not the case, and part of our collective awakening to creating solutions that can make our world thrive is waking up from this illusion we have chosen to accept.

People are beginning to learn en masse that high profile figures are involved in such acts like extreme occult rituals, sex trafficking and pedophilia, and they are beginning to wonder why. They are also beginning to question why we put our trust and support in people who operate in this manner.

Looking Deeper:

We have interviewed a survivor of elite pedophile rings like the one Epstein and Maxwell ran. Her name is Anneke Lucas and you can watch her full testimony here on CETV.

You can also watch a recent documentary called Out of Shadows that explores this topic in detail on CETV as well.

Read more about Epstein ad Maxwell here.

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Environmentalist Censored For Shifting His Opinion On Climate Change

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Forbes.com deleted a new article from environmentalist Michael Shellenberger. His perspective on climate change shifted, and he decided to write about it. Forbes wasn't having it.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are we deciding to censor different perspectives as opposed to explore them? Is our emotional intelligence so undeveloped collectively that we cannot have civil conversations?

What Happened: Michael Shellenberger, a long time environmentalist who has been in the trenches helping to save the world’s last unprotected redwoods, co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal and led an effort to keep nuclear power plants operating in order to prevent a spike of emissions, has shifted his perspective on climate change. Prior to today, he was holding the perspective that we must be alarmed about the fact that the world will end in a short amount of time if we don’t act to reduce carbon emissions immediately.

He shifted his opinion based on exploring emerging science on the subject. He then went on to write a book called Never Apocalypse, which seeks to help explore what we can do to better our environment from a grounded and accurate point of view, as opposed to alarmism.

He wrote an article on Forbes website titled On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize For the Climate Scare.” Two days laterForbes decided to remove his article.

Why It Matters: The fact that Forbes removed an article that was grounded, calm, well written and explored new conversations illustrates the emerging culture of ‘censor anything that can get us in trouble’ or ‘censor anything that doesn’t agree with mainstream conjecture.”

We’ve come into a time where our collective lack of emotional intelligence is surfacing deeply for us to address. When we disagree on something, we struggle to explore things together. When a company says something they feel might get them in trouble, they run away in fear that the angry mob will come after them.

All that happened here was a man wrote an article that brought some new light to a conversation that has been very polarized and is causing people to react out of emotion instead of logic and the heart. Instead of listening and exploring, censorship ensues.

The Takeaway: I spoke at a high school here in Toronto last year. At the end of my talk, many students came up to me to talk, discuss ideas and share feedback. The vast majority of them explained to me that they were terrified that the world was going to end in just a few years. They felt they had no future because of the acts of generations prior who were causing CO2 levels to rise so high that the world would end.

I thought to myself, wow, an entire generation of kids being pushed into fear, anxiety and depression based on information that isn’t even accurate. This information was created by politicians and pushed out by media. Scientists categorically do not agree with the idea that the world is coming to an end as a result of CO2 emissions. Yet not enough people are telling people this, most of media is staying silent on other perspectives and censorship even shuts down opposing ideas.

What type of world will we create if we can’t discuss basic ideas? What  type of world will we create when we choose to run, hide and censor as opposed to having important conversations? How can we stop identifying so deeply with positions, so that we can be more free to shift ideas when new information helps us understand things better?

Looking Deeper:

I made a film last year called Regenerate: Beyond The CO2 Narrative. After 10 years of researching and investigating climate change, I came to many conclusions that I felt needed to be shared, yet were extremely rare in public discourse. One of the most important aspects of Regenerate was that we simply are looking at our environment from such a limited point of view that we can’t identify the real issues we face, and that our level of thinking, or consciousness, is completely disconnected from the solutions required to truly shift our relationship with earth. Thus, we are creating solutions that never truly address making the environment cleaner or better long term.

I encourage you to check out the film trailer below, and if you wish to watch the film, it’s available on our member platform called CETV. You can start a free 7 day trial to watch it if you like. We also discuss this story in more detail in episode 2 of The Takeway, an orignal show we have on CETV.

Watch the full film here.

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Soft Drink Companies Caught Using Big Tobacco’s Playbook To Lure Young Children

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Documents obtained by researchers clearly outline the unethical and immoral actions Tobacco companies used to 'hook' kids onto sugary drinks. They use the same tactics they did for smoking.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do and have our federal health regulatory agencies allow such products to be approved as safe for consumption when they are clearly linked to a variety of diseases, like cancer?

Many moves made by multiple big corporations are extremely unethical, immoral, and downright shocking. These corporations have completely compromised our federal health regulatory agencies, and it’s quite clear that they do not care about the health of the human race and will do anything when it comes to the success of the products they manufacture, including taking illegal and/or immoral actions.

One of the more recent examples comes from the tobacco industry. Companies within the industry used colors, flavors, and marketing techniques to lure and entice children as potential future smokers. They actually used and applied these same strategies to sweetened beverages starting as early as 1963, according to a study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco.

As the Sugar Scientists point out:

The study, which draws from a cache of previously secret documents from the tobacco industry that is part of the UCSF Industry Documents Library tracked the acquisition and subsequent marketing campaigns of sweetened drink brands by two leading tobacco companies: R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. It found that as tobacco was facing increased scrutiny from health authorities, its executives transferred the same products and tactics to peddle soft drinks. The study was published in the March 2019 issue of BMJ.

“Executives in the two largest U.S.-based tobacco companies had developed colors and flavors as additives for cigarettes and used them to build major children’s beverage product lines, including Hawaiian Punch, Kool-Aid, Tang and Capri Sun,” said senior author Laura Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, of the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “Even after the tobacco companies sold these brands to food and beverage corporations, many of the product lines and marketing techniques designed to attract kids are still in use today.” (source)

The new papers, which are available in the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library, a subset of the UCSF Industry Documents Library, reveal the close and tight knit relationships between the big tobacco and big food industries. In fact, in the 60s and 70s, these companies conducted taste tests with mothers and their children to evaluate sweetness, colors and flavors for Hawaiian Punch product line extensions. The children’s preferences were prioritized.

Kool-Aid Joins Marlboro

Meanwhile, tobacco competitor Philip Morris had acquired Kool-Aid, via General Foods, in 1985. The company flipped its marketing audience from families to children, created its “Kool-Aid Man” mascot, and launched collaborations with branded toys, including Barbie and Hot Wheels. It also developed a children’s Kool-Aid loyalty program described as “our version of the Marlboro Country Store,” a cigarette incentives program. (source)

“The Wacky Wild Kool-Aid style campaign had tremendous reach and impact,” said first author Kim Nguyen, ScD, MPH, who is also with the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “Lots of kids in the ’80s dreamed of getting swag from the Wacky Warehouse. What is really ‘wacky’ is that the Kool-Aid kid program was modeled after a tobacco marketing strategy designed to build allegiance with smokers.”

The tobacco giant also acquired Capri Sun and Tang, and used similar child-focused integrated marketing strategies to drive those sales.

“The industry claims that these tobacco-inspired marketing strategies are not actually targeting children and should be excluded from these industry-led agreements,” said Schmidt. “But the evidence cited in our research shows that these product lines and marketing techniques were specifically designed for and tested on children.” (source)

The UCSF Industry Documents Library was launched in 2002 as a digital portal for tobacco documents. Today, the library includes close to 15 million internal tobacco, drug, chemical and food industry documents used by scientists, policymakers, journalists and community members in their efforts to improve and protect the health of the public.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that government health authorities and the corporations we buy our food from, among other things, really don’t care about us. This has become extremely evident, as they are responsible for the sharp rise in numerous diseases. It’s not uncommon to see parents buy their children products similar to the ones listed above, and that’s due to mass brainwashing and the fact that we’ve been made to feel that these products are actually safe. This is why awareness is so critical.

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