UPDATE: I recently spoke with Joel @Rapleaf and he clarified that the data that Rapleaf collects is not used to deny individuals credit. Instead the information is only used by the marketing departments to target potential customers (source).
While Twitter is free social media tool, there’s a price that one pays for tweeting. For example, there are plenty of good incidents caused by an embarrassing celebrity tweet (source). Aside from Hollywood celebrities, we’ve also had a local incident where a VP at the Atlanta PR firm Ketchum mistakenly used Twitter to exclaim that he “would die” if he had to live in Memphis while visiting his client, FedEx (source). This was a problem since Memphis is where FedEx is headquartered. Talk about a real Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment.
Until now, the price of tweeting was simply facing temporary ridicule and a small boo-boo to your online reputation. But that’s all changed now that data-mining firm Rapleaf announced that they collect data from Twitter to determine if you’re credit worthy demographics data in the public domain that’s exposed through social networking sites. According to an article in Fortune Magazine (source), the people that you “hang out” with can be used to determine if you’ll pay your bill on time. Yikes!
As a regular user of Twitter and Facebook, I’m less worried about what I say because I’m well aware that my statements are in the public domain. But, I’m reconsidering who I’m planning to follow or be-friend online. As a social networking contributor, you should consider whether you’re willing to allow a social networking site to expose that information to a search engine, like Google.
I guess that the quip “Be slow in choosing your friends” rings true.