Friday, February 19, 2010

Social Media + Credit Score? Please No!

Since quite a while I had been wanting to write this particular blog post related to some of the news making rounds on the Internet, that, your activity on different social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are used by the credit card companies to effect, in some way, your credit score. Though note that the company focusing on "computational advertising" on similar lines has denied such news (rumors) on their blog.

However I have been thinking on this issue quite a bit. Even if it's being done hypothetically sometime somewhere, is it an appropriate thing to do, given the affordances of these online social sites? To take an example, I felt it completely thrown away by the idea that our activities on an online space such as Facebook or Twitter could even remotely be correlated with serious physical world aspects, that are likely to have serious and widespread consequences.

For example, if not Facebook, most of us would agree that our Twitter friends or even our tweets are often not reflective of the actual person we are, or the kinds of things we might take seriously in real life. I follow several people on Twitter, and even presumably respond or RT their tweets. But should you ask me how much I really know about those guys, apart from the content of their tweets, or the number of followers they have, I really have zero clue! Similarly, also, though Facebook tries to organize user profile around common social foci, i.e. common organizational affiliations, and as a result our friend circles are often a projection of our real social ties; however it is far away from being reflective in any sense of what kind of a person we are in physical world. I would often comment on or share items from someone who is possibly just an "acquaintance" from a course I took a long time ago in early graduate school. However, if someone is trying to sneak in and use these interactions or the kinds of friends I have to make real world judgments for me, it would be utterly disappointing!

I am not trying to take away the utility of online social media in this post. After all, it's what is my research "testbed" and I am completely a "pro" social media lover! But the reason I find social media most interesting is hardly because they are some sort of "projections" of our physical world online spaces. Rather what I find really interesting as well as challenging in the scope of the interactions in these online social spaces, is how they are shaping our entire perception of socially communicating altogether! Additionally, as you would feel, the definition of a "friend" on social media has a completely different perception than what we mean by it in reality!

Nevertheless not trying to produce here evidences that studying social media has no utility to our actual lives at all! In fact, studying these online behavior could have significant impact on how our perceptions of social ties are changing, and how our modalities of interactions have evolved due to the presence of these diverse media. This can be valuable to study social phenomena, both virtual and physical. However my skepticism still stands aforth to utilize such knowledge towards making decisions that can potentially affect a person's life extremely adversely.

1 comment:

dipthought said...

What happens if it affects a person's life in a positive way? Through your social network interactions, you come across as a responsible, ambitious, no nonsense person and that helps your credit rating?