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Friend requests on Facebook may determine loans

Most Queens College students do not think too much when they accept a friend request, although, a potential Facebook patent may change.

Facebook is developing a new technology that, if approved by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, would allow creditors to use a new system to evaluate a potential borrower’s creditworthiness. It would seek information from a borrower’s Facebook friend list instead of their personal credit history.

On Aug. 4, 2015, Facebook filed a U.S patent for a new technology examining “the credit ratings of members of the individual’s social network who are connected to the individual.”

Students seeking student loans, based on a student’s credit score and other financial information, could be affected by this change.

Facebook would disclose a potential borrower’s friends list to third parties, who are allowed to monitor the credit history of each Facebook user. Then, it is used to assess whether or not to grant a borrower a loan.

Students who accept friend requests from users with negative credit history risk having their “loan application rejected” or receive a higher interest rate.

According to 2013 ProPublica report, 13.2 percent of undergraduate students relied on federal loans for their education. Hypothetically, if one student defaulted on their loans, which 6.5 percent of students did three years after graduating, it could penalize a Facebook friend’s chance at obtaining a loan.

Anmol Singh, a senior, disagreed with Facebook’s new blueprint.

“If Facebook will be used to identify credit worthy borrowers, it should only be based on the information you share about yourself like photos or wall post, not who you accept as Facebook friends. How many of your friends on Facebook do you really know? It should not have an impact on you,” Singh said.

The product effects not only student loans but mortgages, car loans and credit cards as well.

Izabela Mierzejewska, a senior, believed Facebook should not be used at all when seeking a potential loan. She questioned whether a social media profile could accurately display a person’s credit worth.

“I don’t think Facebook friends can reflect how financially responsible you are. It’s not fair to determine someone’s credit worthiness based on that kind of information. Someone’s social life should not have anything to do with work or school. It’s absolutely absurd,” Mierzejewska said.

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