When we signed up, most of us saw Facebook as a place where we could converse with our friends and reconnect with old ones. We saw it as a nifty little tool; a place to share things with our pals, and a place to tell stories of life’s events. But now we have to face the grim reality that our friends aren’t the only ones listening and reading our posts. Employers and Schools went first, sneaking a peek into users’ profiles to judge them by whatever standards they came up with. And now it’s the bankers’ turn. According to reports, bankers are hard at work on a tool that would allow them to analyze a person’s credit worthiness based on their online profile.
So, what would happen if a bank gets access to your social network profile? Well, for starters, they’re going to get data that they normally wouldn’t be privy to. When a person applies for a credit application, there are certain pieces of information that banks cannot ask for, such as marital status and race. This is perfectly reasonable, especially since it’s illegal to discriminate against certain groups. However, with access to a person’s social media profile, they can get easy access to this information without having to specifically ask for it.
However, that’s not the worst of it. There’s a saying that goes “birds of a feather flock together” – it’s a saying that banks apparently adhere to, no matter how fallacious it can get in the social media environment. They’re going to see your Facebook and Twitter friends as “prospects” – people whom they can possibly approach in the future. If your friends all possess a relatively impressive credit rating, then good for you because the bank will likely be quick to ‘friend’ you as well. But then, if there’s someone on your friends list who happens to be “financially troubled”, then your chances could go down considerably, even if that someone isn’t exactly someone in your inner circle and only an acquaintance. In short, we’ll have to be very careful about who we add on Facebook.
If the banks push through with this plan, then it would be potentially damaging to us if we add just anyone to our Facebook account. We are forced to think of our friends in an analytical, almost cold, way. If we do not, then our finances could be affected. Also, if you were the one who isn’t exactly credit worthy, then I imagine that some of the more financially-savvy Facebook users would avoid you like the plague.
But that’s not even the worst of it. Apparently, there’s a micro-lender company based inHong Kongcalled Lenddo that requires its users to give their social media information and actually reserves the right to tell your friends, family, and community, should you go behind on your payments. They practically asked for the right to ruin your reputation if you fail to make good with your payments to them.
Indeed, judging by the trend in which industries are moving into the social media sphere, it’s really not surprising that the banking industry will follow sooner or later, especially considering how much they could profit just by gaining access to the information people post online. Those in the industry say that the tool is still under development and is still three to five years away from mainstream adaptation.