"We're sorry, ma'am," the man in the dark gray suit says morosely. "We've gone over your credit application, and we'd like to approve you, but..."
"But what!?" the woman cries out, attracting the attention of the other people in the branch, who are trying their hardest to look without actually appearing to look at the scene unfolding.
"Well, you see, you're friends on Facebook with someone who defaulted on a loan to our financial institution. I'm afraid that you're guilty by association, and there's no way we can offer you a loan. Guards?"
Armed guards appear out of no where and drag the woman, kicking and screaming, never to be seen again.
OK, so that's not a reality that will be happening anytime soon, but many companies are using social data to serve you up ads, perks, and all kinds of other services.
A company called Lenndo takes your Facebook friends into consideration when determining if you're eligible for a loan. From their website:
"Lenddo uses social data to ensure you are who you say you are. Our system also analyzes your connections and how strong they are. Don't worry about the people you might have accidentally friended a long time ago, Lenddo only takes into account your strongest interactions. In many cases this means your family, best friends, and close coworkers. In most cases, your social data will not hurt your LenddoScore unless we get an account with no data or an account with little or negative interactions... If your friends are positive contributors to the community - you benefit, however, if you or your Trusted Connections miss payments your community will be adversely affected."
In other words, don't worry—the guy in your O Chem class you friended in 2008 and never talk to will probably not impact your score. But if your BFF Tina never pays her car loan on time, that could affect you adversely.
It seems to be a slippery slope, but as the social data sphere grows, more and more companies will be looking for ways to take advantage of that data. Lenndo only operates in the Philippines, Colombia and Mexico—but they receive 1000 applications a day.
Do you think that someone's Facebook friends are a good barometer of their ability to pay back a loan? Is this a sustainable business practice for credit unions? Sound off below.
DeAndre Upshaw is a former Young & Free Texas Spokester. He's a marketing professional living in Dallas and a Beyonce enthusiast. DeAndre is the host and executive producer of The State of Awesome. Follow him on Twitter and check out his personal website.