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China’s latest app encourages citizens to track down and shame people in debt

The Northern Chinese province of Hebei has launched an app that allows users to expose and publicly shame “deadbeat debtors”.

Imagine Tinder, but for people with pending financial obligations. The app, called “A Map of Deadbeat Debtors” highlights any debtors within a 500-metre range.

Users can then check out a bunch of personal information including full name, national ID number and the reason they were added to the database.

The Higher People’s Court of Hebei introduced the app on WeChat – an insanely popular messaging, social media and mobile payment app in China – last Monday.

“It’s a part of our measures to enforce our rulings and create a socially credible environment,” a spokesman told China Daily.

The app, which sounds like it was taken straight out of George Orwell’s 1984, is now part of the country’s frightening new surveillance apparatus that also includes drones resembling birds and cops with Terminator-style smart glasses.

China is also on the verge of installing a nationwide social credit system that will give citizens a score that fluctuates depending on the individual’s behaviour.

If you do things like volunteer for community service or donate blood your score will rise, but if you loiter in the street, play too many video games or post anti-government sentiments on social media, your score will fall.

A low social score will make it more difficult for a person to travel and get loans, as well as access education and employment.

So far this new form of social control has undergone trials in smaller cities with a plan for national adoption by 2020.

This new app was designed so that people could perform their “social duty” to expose debtors if they seem “capable of paying their debts.”

It looks like the Chinese government doesn’t understand that fictional dystopias were created as cautionary tales, not as templates to follow.

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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