Facebook was granted a patent that describes a method for user authentications, and goes on to describe several useful applications such as filtering out spam and in search queries contextual to the user. The patent also states (in quoted words), how this authentication system can be used to approve (or reject) loans based on a person’s social connections. The patent text quoted verbatim:
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.
I find it hard to imagine how these kind of processes would not have an impact on who we become friends with on Facebook. Or how we can not get into who makes how much money, and what are their credit scores (with banks). The whole social life as it is would tumble into a selfish, money-based model that would be beneficial to only the banks that need to process your data. Or to the users, when they start going after high credit rated people in scores.
While I’m fairly sure that such patents would not be implemented (out in the public) over concerns of mass public outcries, what concerns me is the direction things seem to be going within Facebook itself. Earlier today, I wrote another article on how facebook is being manipulative to get Internet.org support.
Update: The said patent was acquired by Facebook as part of an acquisition of Friendster sometime in 2010. There has been no information on how it (if and when) plans to use this patent.