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Facebook Patent Could Use “Friends” in New Loan Process

Facebook surprised many last month with a new patent for “Lock screen with socialized applications” that could help the social media site filter spam, improve site search functions and… help (or hurt)users who are trying to get a loan.

While the patent’s main focus seems to be on reducing the amount of offensive content and creating smoother search options, a small section describes a process in which lenders could base an individual’s credit risk off of their social circles.  The patent reads:

“When an individual applies for a loan, the lender examines the credit ratings of members of the individual’s social network… 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.”

Whether or not the Federal Trade Commission would allow such a process is up for debate.  Currently, the FTC prohibits discrimination based on personal characteristics such as race or religion, and an applicants “friends” certainly seem to fall under that category.  However, Facebook may not ever do anything with the patent, which was purchased with several others from Friendster for $40 million a few years ago.  Currently it remains just a part of the portfolio. 

Facebook is continually surprising users with frequent site updates, new page settings and patent filings for all the methods and systems responsible.  Since its on-campus inception in 2004, this innovative social media site has grown to become the “second-most accessed website in the U.S. behind Google” and consists of more than 1.1 billion members.