Gigaom reports (via Spiegl.de) that a German credit reference agency called Schufa is planning to use publicly shared information on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to inform its credit profiling. Considering Germany is regarded as somewhat privacy-mad, this is a rather surprising development.
The information shared on social networks like Facebook could be used to identify your relationship status, your location or anything else you’ve decided to share (or had shared for you by one of many Facebook policy changes or redesigns). It is possible that if you decided to share in a status update that you may be getting made redundant, your credit score could (at least in theory) be given a kick down a few points.
It’s a rather unsettling bit of news, but it is something that has been on the horizon for some time. Credit profiling is one of those black arts that make very little sense to us, but is worked out by any number of algorithms and take in a wide variety of factors. Rather like the insurance industry it relies on historic and often circumstantial information that may not be relevant today. Anyone who lives within four miles of a garden pond or a brook will wonder why they are being charged by their insurer for being on a “flood plain” and anyone who moved house recently and is not yet on the electoral register may wonder why they have trouble getting a mortgage.
It was only a matter of time before credit agencies, insurance companies and even employers started taking a walk on the creepy side to further refine the profiling of its subjects.
Still, look on the bright side, if you have friends who insist on –for want of a better phrase, airing their dirty laundry in public, you have a good reason for asking them to stop.