Now, Max Levchin Will Decide Who You Friend On Facebook

February 27, 2013 10:10 am

The concept of determining people’s worthiness based on facebook has always been a frightening proposition. It impacts social behavior, online and offline, in more ways than you can imagine. So the first step towards that was rolled out today – Max Levchin introduced a new payment product called Affirm – and the first thing that came across as strange was that the only way to use the service was with a facebook login.

Then we spotted this: “As part of its effort, Affirm will use Facebook for authentication of consumers, and also use a number of other social and data signals to assess risk. It will then guarantee payment to merchants — who will pay Affirm a fee — after this check.” Source: AllThingsD. Then we realized that this is the first step towards a nightmare scenario. You need to be careful about what you do on facebook, not because of the reasons that existed so far – but because now, it can and will affect your credit. In more ways than one.

“Using social and data signals to assess risk” – if you add someone with a bad financial track record on facebook, you will inherit part of that bad karma – at least that is how we think these systems would work – are these not the kind of ‘signals’ Max Levchin is talking about? What socially non-intrusive signals can one get from facebook? As people become more aware of the impact that their actions on facebook has on their lives elsewhere, they would tailor their facebook behavior accordingly.

And that would be a really bad thing, overall.

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