Your Facebook Friends’ Finances Might Matter More Than You Think

Illustrated by Austin Watts.
A potential Facebook change could make scrolling through your newsfeed feel a whole lot shadier. This week, the company secured a new patent that could make your spending habits, and those of your Facebook friends, way more visible to potential money lenders. If this news has left you looking like a more realistic version of the Nonplussed Emoji, don't feel weird; we're right there with you. Though it is yet to be determined exactly how it would work across the site (or if it would actually ever be implemented), the patent basically states that, if you're applying for a loan, your Facebook friends' credit ratings can be accessed by lenders to see how you measure up. Here's where it gets complicated and, as we might have mentioned, shady: Your friends' ratings must average out to a minimum credit score in order for you to get that loan. Obviously, this is a strange policy, especially for those of us who don't routinely clean out our friend list — because maybe some of us just like to keep up with that girl from high school who became a fitspiration Instagram star, okay? — but whether you find it strange or not, you probably don't care to be judged by the company you keep when it comes to such a personal matter as your finances. The patent also describes how Facebook could better filter offensive content and spam email, and could even improve Facebook's search abilities. But that doesn't diminish what feels like a huge invasion of privacy, one that could usher in an all-too-materialistic way of looking at our friends online. We already have enough reasons to unfriend people. Let's not allow "you're a financial dealbreaker for me" to become another. We have reached out to Facebook for a comment and will update this post if we receive a response.

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