Facebook was granted a patent for a program that can scan social media accounts to help lenders decide whether or not they should give an applicant a financial loan.


This feature searches the Facebook friends of those applying for a loan, and then tells the lender the average credit score found among their friends. If the friends on the user’s account have low credit scores, then they could be denied a loan. This can be problematic because there are many people that have hundreds, if not thousands, of friends on Facebook that they barely know. Even if the applicant doesn’t have a close relationship with a majority of their Facebook friends, lenders would still take all of the credit scores into account when making their decision.  


Stamp printed on the approved loan application approved.


The patent may have been granted, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook will use it. In 2010, Facebook purchased a portfolio of patents from Friendster for $40 million, and the credit score scanning patent was one of them. Facebook may be seeking approval of all of the patents they purchased, even if they have no plans to use some them.   


Lenders may be interested in obtaining the credit scores of a customer’s friends, but if Facebook were to implement this feature it could do more harm than good for the company. If the social media site starts causing people to lose out on a loan that they need, many users may start deleting their accounts to prevent further damage. This could also stop potential Facebook users from making accounts to begin with if they think it could affect their lives in a negative way.   


Social media sites were created to connect users with large numbers of people, but this patent would force users to remove friends they think pose too high of a risk. Facebook has yet to comment on whether or not they plan on implementing the credit score scanning feature of their new patent.


Should Facebook use this patent? Would using the patent harm the company more than it helps? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.