It appears people are becoming more aware of the ramifications of "bad" social network posts. A recent study showed that 71 percent of users will self-censor their social network comments.
In spite of that, apps like Snapchat and Whisper exist to allow some to continue to act out anonymously. But overall, the public is learning that too much of the wrong information posted publicly can have lasting repercussions. In fact, college admissions boards and employers have used social media to conduct background checks on applicants for the past few years.
Now, some loan companies are giving people one more reason to censor their pics and posts online. To be specific, a few smaller loan companies recently shared that they would validate the creditworthiness of applicants through social media profiles.
Although this additional resource could potentially present positive feedback, some worry about the credibility and fairness of judging a borrower by their social network profile.
What do you think?
There are pros and cons. On the side of the pros, if a lending company will determine that the higher the quality of a social profile, the higher caliber the loan applicant, then what are the criteria? To illustrate, if someone is more responsive and dedicated to their friends via Facebook, it may suggest that they will uphold the same responsiveness with their lender.
On the other hand, the efficacy of using social networks as a metric may be questionable. And, there is the potential for lenders to misinterpret information collected from a social profile. For example, if someone is a practical joker and rowdy fan of college football, their profile might be fundamentally different than an introvert with a PhD that collects butterflies. But perhaps that's the point?
Most importantly, if a bad impression is made, the borrower could be denied credit or charged a higher interest rate based on perceived credit risk. Now we'll have credit score profiling? And unlike lending companies that check and verify a person's credit history, companies using social networks are not required to verify any information acquired and reviewed therein.
Will regulators create an objective, documented process for social network profile scoring? If not, the personality, biases and mood of the lender at the moment of checking a Facebook or Instagram post might impact this subjective "fact-checking" exercise.
It has become clear that social networks are mainstream sources of information. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Facebook and Twitter as a method to disclose corporate information.
So, if perusal of social profiles becomes a trend and established evaluation method among lending companies, will credit savvy users clean-up their Facebook pages to appeal to the lender rather than their online "friends"?
Adults and teens: be aware that social network profiles are no longer a place to act out, but a place to be real... but only if you want to get into college, get hired or get a loan.
Note: This article and the opinions expressed here are from Russ Warner, Internet safety expert and CEO of ContentWatch, makers of parental control software Net Nanny.
Follow Russ Warner on Google+.