We also know various companies are using the social networking sites to find out as much about you as they can before they decide to give you a job. They also use it to decide if they are going to loan you money or extend you credit. Insurance companies gather as much information about you they can from social media sites, or they hire a private detective to do it for them. They use the information to determine if they want to insure you, which claims to pay and whether or not to pay or discontinue disability or other benefits. What can they get off those sites?
They can access all sorts of information they have no legal right, it would actually be illegal, to ask of you. So can employers. Not a big deal, right? You’ve got nothing to hide?
Lenders will use algorithms currently in development to “see” who your “friends” are on all the social media sites and decide your future based on whether or not they like who they see.
With these new super-secret algorithms, used for this purpose, they will find the stuff you deleted last month because you plan to apply for a loan or credit. It will still be on your friends’ sites.
It would be a fair guess to think that might be why social media sites set their privacy policies in such a manner as to make it contractually legal to sell access to their databases.
Why would I think that? Because as the number of institutions using the algorithm increases, so will bandwidth usage on the social media sites. Someone has to pay for that bandwidth. No, social media sites won’t let that go unpaid. And, they are in the business of selling “people” to the companies that currently advertise on those sites.
Turning over the passwords to all your social media sites will be required to get credit from these lenders. They will use that information for several purposes:
- Determine if your friends are financially stable enough to make you a good risk
- Market products to your friends
- Send messages to your friends from your accounts
- Those messages will also include telling all your “friends” if you have missed some payments.
With employers, insurance companies, and lenders looking at your social media to gain information they can’t legally ask, they will misconstrue, take out of context, and assume meaning that does not exist. They will use that information to discriminate in ways the Constitution of the United States forbids.
What we can do about it:
- Do not use real names. Pseudonyms are legal! You just can’t intend to defraud people.
- Use an email service such as gmail or yahoo instead of an address that leads back to your front door when signing up for social media sites.
- If you do use your real name, be selective about who you “friend”.
- Demand laws protecting citizens who decline to provide social media account information. Some people drink on Friday nights until they are drunk, get photographs posted about it, but still pay their bills on time!
- Lastly, if we all stopped using social media, our businesses might suffer, but everyone would get the message. We would all connect on forums and lists, as we did in the past, where we have some anonymity until we decide to whom and when to reveal information.