Las Vegas, NV — Facebook has recently been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for an updated patent application that, in the future, may allow banks and other financial institutions to base their decision to grant a line of credit partially upon the collective credit of those on your list of friends.
Sound bizarre? Reality is often stranger than fiction, even amongst the prolific dystopian novels written decades ago that are slowly proving to be primers for the future.
“In a fourth embodiment of the invention, the service provider is a lender. 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.”
How does it make you feel, gentle reader, to know that the decisions made by individuals on your list of friends could possibly impact your own fiscal well-being by limiting your financial options?
One may wonder if such a system is legal under today’s laws, and rightly so. This is where the situation becomes murky, especially when considered in the context of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, which makes it a crime for creditors to discriminate against potential applicants based upon race, marital status, religion, national origin, age (assuming the applicant is legally able to enter in to a contract), or if an applicant’s income is all or in part supplemented by public assistance.
According to Credit.com, “It’s possible that social information could inadvertently be used improperly if it falls into one of those categories.”
While the technology is not going to be implemented today — and it is unclear if the recently granted patent will even be used in this context — you may wish to preemptively clean out your list of friends now if you’re considering seeking a line of credit in the future.
Lou Colagiovanni joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in July of 2014. His topics of interest include crime and politics. Born in New York City, New York, he currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Learn more about Colagiovanni here!