A series of cities in China’s northeastern Shandong Province have been allowing minor traffic violators to get off scot free so long as they post a WeChat confession about their violation. But not so fast — the social media post must get a minimum of 20 likes for it to count.
The regulation works as a road safety awareness campaign in that way, or so the logic of the authorities goes. Rather than fining the violator and being done with it, the social media confession punishment forces them to educate their friends on what is in fact quite a common problem in China and also involves an element of public shaming which will hopefully deter repeat offenders.
Into the Black Mirror: The Truth Behind China’s Social Credit System
The alternative method of punishment only applies to “minor” traffic violations — parking where you’re not supposed to, driving outside of determined lanes, and not yielding when you’re supposed to.
One person who was caught driving outside the lines made a WeChat confession that was published in an article on the Chinese media outlet The Paper.
They end by saying, “please take this as a warning everybody, make sure to follow traffic regulations, and also please support me and like this post; I’m waiting to be let off, quick quick quick!!!”
This isn’t the first time a Chinese local authority has introduced “flexible enforcement” regulations. Last year, a city in Sichuan launched a pilot scheme of a similar regulation for scooter drivers.
Now Shandong seems to have taken the helm by putting out even more regulations aiming to “educate” drivers rather than penalize them for trivial violations. Several cities in the province have introduced lists of anywhere from 8 to 14 types of minor infringements, often just for first-time violators, that can be let off with warnings or a WeChat confession.
Whereas there have undoubtedly been some misunderstandings regarding China’s social credit system on the whole, it seems one’s reputation in their social circle really does matter if they want to enjoy the benefits of this law.
Cover photo: Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash
We highlight our top stories each week in an email newsletter that goes out every Monday - hot, fresh, and straight to your inbox.
Don't worry, we don't spam