You may not realize it, but the 140-character messages allowed on Twitter leave plenty of room for companies to eavesdrop on you — and figure out whether you’re a good credit risk or not. One company is becoming particularly adept at the gambit — and here’s how they’re doing it.
The company in question is Rapleaf, a San Francisco automated search software developer. The company specializes in a field it calls social media monitoring" and that’s where the Twitter/credit score tie-in crystallizes.
Essentially, Rapleaf taps into millions of social networking transmissions, particularly those on Twitter and Facebook. Altogether, the company has a database of 378 million social networking “conversations” that it turns into consumer profiles. The profiles (or “social graphs") include any status updates you’ve added on sites like Twitter and Facebook, and even adds reviews you’ve done on products or services — even a review of the last movie you saw and posted on RottenTomatoes.com.
Monitoring social networks isn’t exactly brand new — the CIA has been raking through millions of online conversations for national security reasons for a while. But for the purpose of identifying good credit risks? That part is brand new — and perfectly legal.By drilling down into 378 million bits of online information, Rapleaf has unearthed a treasure trove of information for banks and other lenders looking to see what kind of consumer — and what kind of credit risk — you are. Lenders hire Rapleaf to cut through all of the online clutter (the software eliminates scammers, spammers and other online nuisances, so lenders can hone in on legitimate consumers) and categorize consumers as good or bad credit risks.
The Rapleaf software’s nuances alone are fairly amazing. For example, you might be facing rejection on a credit card application, but the company you keep online might bail you out. How? Rapleaf not only categorizes your profile, but it stores your social networking contacts, too. So if your friends have good credit, that tidbit gets picked up by the lender, and can turn the tide and help get your application approved.