You’ve just found your dream house. A perfect home for you and your family. You’re excited to move in as soon as possible, so you call your real estate agent and make an offer. You need a meager loan to buy the house, but all your debts are paid off, your credit score is near perfect, so you have nothing to worry about, right? Monday morning comes around and you stroll into your bank dressed to the nines with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. You sit down with the loan officer and daydream about the deck you’ll build while he checks up on you on his computer. Your daydreaming quickly crumbles away as you hear the loan officer mutter those disturbing “hmm” tones that we’ve all heard. Your hands begin to sweat and you heart rate jumps as the manager walks over. They’re talking quietly while looking at you with perturbed eyes. As the manager walks away the loan officer sits back down and with a cold smile says to you, “I’m sorry but at this time your loan is denied.” Confusion and anger play tug of war in your heart as you walk out of the bank with your head down, asking yourself what went wrong. The answer to that question should disturb you, because what went wrong was Facebook.
Facebook recently patented technology that will allow banks and lenders to assess your social network to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan. As stated in the patent; “When an individual applies for a loan, the lender examines the credit ratings of members of the individual’s social network who are connected to the individual through authorized nodes. If the average credit rating of these members is at least a minimum credit score, the lender continues to process the loan application. Otherwise, the loan application is rejected.” Your friends may very well determine your financial fate as Facebook brings about a whole new era of guilt by association and profiling. You may have nothing to worry about if your social groups average credit rating is high, of course that’s not true at all. With full access to your Facebook account banks and lenders will see it all, they will see pictures you’ve been tagged in with your friends taking shots at the bar every weekend, they will read your posts about the new car you couldn’t afford but bought anyway, they will have access to anything linked to your Facebook account, e.g., eBay, Amazon, and Google. So, if they see that you spend your hard-earned money frivolously, or spend your free time drinking heavily, they can, and will most likely deny you any more money to have fun with.
As Facebook’s patent is rather new, most banks and lenders are not using this technology yet, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be soon. As Facebook expands to help those who have exploit and profit from those who have-not, one should be wary of the information one shares via social media, and be sure to choose your friends carefully, if you care more for the almighty dollar than you do about true friendship that is. In the words of George Orwell, “ Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull,”. A foreboding statement, which becomes more relevant every single day.