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Math The Almighty Buck Science

Judging You By the Online Company You Keep 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-wrong-people dept.
theodp writes "Network analysis uses data about your social network interactions to make assumptions and predictions about your behavior. The Economist notes the upside for companies looking to sell products. But don't forget about the downside, warns Adrian Chen, of living in a world where network analysis is used by financial firms to determine risky borrowers by looking at social ties, or by Internet businesses to determine which customers are more equal than others (nice to see Microsoft's back on the forefront of some tech!). So, did Mom envision Social Network Analytics when she gave you that you-are-the-company-you-keep lecture?"
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Judging You By the Online Company You Keep

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 05, 2010 @08:44AM (#33481120)

    I'm a PHP and Rails entrepreneur and all of my friends and associates are entrepreneurs too. I'm glad to be networked to them using twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and flickr. We've been working in this Starbucks since about 2002 but I know that sometime soon our ideas will take off and we'll all be millionaires.

  • Financial Meltdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @08:49AM (#33481134)

    There is nothing wrong about doing good due diligence before lending money. Maybe the economy would be in better shape if we had more of this going on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem isn't that there aren't enough dowsing rods for telling good borrowers from bad ones. The problem is that there is so much (free) money going around that the people who are in a position to lend have run out of ideas for investments. That's why they knowingly lend to people who are likely to default. The trick is to get rid of the risk before it manifests. The money from the housing crisis isn't gone. On the contrary, even more money has been made available. The trick is to know where it's being

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)
        More than that, it's cheap money and easy to get insurance that's caused a huge portion of the problem. Then when you include incentives to make a lot of loans and no penalty for making bad ones, it doesn't take a Nobel winning economist to see that something's going to go horribly, horribly awry eventually.
        • However, the behaviour was predicted in 1912 by a non Nobel winning economist who remains out of fashion, largely because he says you can't have a cake, and eat it as well. Something which doesn't go down too well when the elites are trying to keep the plebs in line.

           

          • who do you mean? names please.
            not sure what to feed into Google there.
            a lot of economics and 1912 searches turn up Milton Friedman (because that was his birth year) [BTW, Friedman did win the 1976 Nobel]

            • by Colin Smith (2679)

              The Theory of Money and Credit. Published in 1912.

               

      • by magarity (164372)

        The problem isn't that there aren't enough dowsing rods for telling good borrowers from bad ones

        Sure there are, that's why there used to be this expression, "safe as houses". It meant there was no safer way to invest money than in mortgage loans and real estate. Unfortunately the politicians got into the act and started messing with the system. The banks DON'T want to repo houses! They want every borrower to make every payment on time for the life of the loan. The banks' risk exposure would be

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        The problem is that there is so much (free) money going around that the people who are in a position to lend have run out of ideas for investments.

        O Rly?

        http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/aug2010/sb20100830_829624.htm [businessweek.com]

        Generally speaking, we found more demand for loans among business owners. And among the banks that responded to our survey, 72 percent indicated that the number of loan applications they received had increased during the last six months. So there's demand for capital. Something's not

      • The money from the housing crisis isn't gone. On the contrary, even more money has been made available.

        That is absolutely positively wrong. The fiat monetary systems currently in use in all modern economies combined with fractional reserve banking mean that most of the money supply at any one time exists not as actual paper bills or coins or even demand deposits at banks, but rather as debt instruments which do not have guaranteed value until the point of liquidation. If borrowers can no longer service their debts and extinguish them in bankruptcy, then the money or credit that was created by those debts is

    • by flonker (526111) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @09:03AM (#33481194)

      According to our files, you're Facebook friends with someone who has a credit score of 500, and who declared medical bankruptcy. Sorry, we have to deny your request for a mortgage.

      • by kestasjk (933987) * on Sunday September 05, 2010 @09:33AM (#33481296) Homepage
        Okay, then I'll get a loan from a company with decent statisticians who recognize that your friends don't determine how safe a debtor you are.
        And if it turns out having friends with poor credit scores actually does indicate how safe you are (I really doubt it) then I'm all for that information being used appropriately.

        Knowing the true risk of default is never a bad thing, for either party. A lot of the problems we've had since 2008 could have been avoided with better risk analysis.
        • by Jiro (131519) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @09:44AM (#33481350)

          Statisticians for loan companies have no incentive to reduce the error rate once it's beneath a certain level, since the effort to refine the loan criteria costs more than the gain from not rejecting people who don't fit the bogus criteria. There might not even be any such gain at all if the bogus criteria are merely neutral--a company that rejects everyone whose name contains the letter 'Q' is never going to have a reason to stop doing that because while it doesn't help, it doesn't hurt the company either unless there are so many customers with 'Q' in their name that it reduces the total customer base below what they can handle.

          In fact, that's one of the major problems with companies gathering information on you--they have no incentive to reduce the error rate to zero, and even a few percent of error rate can lead to millions of false positives.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kestasjk (933987) *
            If a company rejects anyone whose name contains the letter Q that company is going to lose out on a big chunk of potential profits.
          • by kdemetter (965669)

            You are forgetting that people might not like companies that deny people based on a certain letter of the alphabet.
            In particular if those people happen to have a large group of friends , who will all read the outrage on that persons wall.

            I wonder if anyone made a statistical analysis of how many potential customers they could lose this way.

            • by Jiro (131519)

              Names containing the letter Q are just an example. It's easy to prove discrimination against names containing the letter 'Q'. It's much harder to prove discrimination based on complicated but ultimately bogus loan criteria. And the person rejected will just get rejected without being told why, so there's nothing he can tell his friends.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by digitig (1056110)

          Okay, then I'll get a loan from a company with decent statisticians who recognize that your friends don't determine how safe a debtor you are. And if it turns out having friends with poor credit scores actually does indicate how safe you are (I really doubt it) then I'm all for that information being used appropriately.

          So all those folks on the skids tend to hang out together and are all bad credit risks, and all the millionaires tend to hang out together and are good credit risks, so there's a correlation. Unfortunately, if anybody with a good credit rating turns philanthropist and starts working with and befriending those down on their luck their credit rating is going to take a hit, so they're not going to do that. Way to discourage good works, folks.

          • by Americano (920576)

            so they're not going to do that. Way to discourage good works, folks.

            That's as tenuous a conclusion as saying "because you've befriended some poor people on facebook, therefore you're a bad credit risk."

            You're sort of ignoring the whole "review of assets" bit that banks and mortgage companies do. "Well, you have millions of dollars in property and investments, but you're friends with a guy who just lost his job. Sorry, can't give you a loan."

            Anybody asserting that Facebook is going to be the only thing th

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by kestasjk (933987) *

              Anybody asserting that Facebook is going to be the only thing that determines whether or not you get a loan has an agenda to push.

              What was that saying.. "Never blame malice when you can't rule out stupidity"?
              I think this might just be people getting too worked up looking for something to pin on Facebook, rather than a calculated agenda.

        • by memojuez (910304) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @10:15AM (#33481482)
          The core issue for the Housing Crisis wasn't a lack of knowledge in what the true risk was. Mortgage Brokers were knowingly take risks that were guaranteed to fail. I personally know a couple that were giving a loan with mortgage payments exceeded their monthly GROSS income. The brokerage firm purposely filed falsified documents to acquire said loan with the intent to bundle it into a derivatives package and resell. They're only care was to score a big immediate pay-off for them and the lender and not worry about the long term solvency of the actual loan itself.

          This was especially rampant in Florida which was the ramped up center for land speculation following the "2000-2002 Stock Market Crash."

          • by kestasjk (933987) *
            And it would have been harder to do that with better automated tools for calculating risk based on someones social position.

            If you know, based on someones social network, that they're likely to be poorer than they're letting on on their credit application, or if you make that sort of information more transparent and easy to obtain, that's going to make it harder for a mortgage broker to lie to an investor.
            It does have privacy implications, but there's always positive and negative outcomes of giving up p
            • by memojuez (910304)
              Both the Mortgage Broker and the Lender are required to pull credit history reports and review all the other financial details already available at the initiation of the loan process. Loan Applicants also are usually compelled to sign paperwork enabling the Lending Institution the right to pull and review their Income Tax records directly from the IRS as part of the credit worthy, income to debt ratio.

              Most investors rely on the fact that the initiating parties have done their homework as opposed to them u

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sjames (1099)

              If they managed to ignore the rather obvious red flag that the couple didn't even gross as much as the loan payment, I fail to see why their friends not managing it either would make much difference.

              The financial crisis has/had little to do with consumers. The fraud was rampant through the system with a bunch of people knowingly playing musical chairs. They just happened to have a plan that made sure they would have a chair when the music stopped. As it turns out, there still weren't quite enough chairs, so

          • The core issue for the Housing Crisis wasn't a lack of knowledge in what the true risk was. [...] The brokerage firm purposely filed falsified documents to acquire said loan with the intent to bundle it into a derivatives package and resell.

            I'd say there was a lack of knowledge; because if the people they resold it to had known, they wouldn't have bought it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by memojuez (910304)
              This is true to the point that the purchaser/investor was relying on alleged good information from the derivatives seller as required to qualify for the loan in the first place. "Good Faith" between lenders so to speak. There was illegal activity going on at the lowest level of the process and definite collusion between the brokers and lenders, the initiating parties.
            • by sjames (1099)

              Sure, the problem is the people with the gold plated platinum credit ratings they bought the loans from turned out to be frauds. Had the buyer's known what crooks the lending banks were this wouldn't have happened.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by horza (87255)

          Winning the lottery is a sure-fire way of suddenly getting lots of Facebook friends with low credit scores.

          In France the system is very sensible. You take your monthly net income after tax, remove monthly debt repayments such as credit cards and any other mortgages, and divide by 3. You can take out any mortgage as long as the monthly repayment does not exceed this figure. Credit scores are irrelevant. Of course it sucks if you are self-employed.

          kestaskj is correct though, not giving you money at that canno

        • A lot of the problems we've had since 2008 could have been avoided with better risk analysis.

          No, the problems go much deeper than that. One was mandating that banks make loans to people who aren't qualified and then having the government, more or less, guarantee these loans (this goes back to the Carter administration, but every president since then was also guilty of endorsing this). The second was having the wrong incentives for loan companies: they made money processing these loans and then selling them to someone else. It's the ultimate legal get rich-quick scheme at the time.

          We've had very goo

          • No, the problems go much deeper than that. One was mandating that banks make loans to people who aren't qualified and then having the government, more or less, guarantee these loans (this goes back to the Carter administration, but every president since then was also guilty of endorsing this).

            Please explain where these so-called mandates to issue no-document subprime loans were enacted in law. The fact is that these mandates didn't exist. Nor were there guarantees for these banks making the loans. The probl

            • If people don't want their information to be used that way, well maybe they shouldn't make their lives a matter of public record on the internet.

              Yea, when the bank goes to check your online social history you'll be punished for not having one. "OMG, a social recluse!, probably a terrorist, lets report them to the FBI." With the way things are going these days, do you expect anything less batshit crazy?

            • Please explain where these so-called mandates to issue no-document subprime loans were enacted in law. The fact is that these mandates didn't exist.

              There is no law saying exactly that. But there were certain mandates set forth in the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, with amendments throughout the decades, that gave rise to what we have today. There's quite a bit of blame to spread around, but it all starts back in 1977.

              • by vux984 (928602)

                There is no law saying exactly that. But there were certain mandates set forth in the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, with amendments throughout the decades, that gave rise to what we have today. There's quite a bit of blame to spread around, but it all starts back in 1977.

                Firstly, the majority of the problematic loans were made by organizations who were not subject CRA rules. So why exactly is CRA responsible for "making them issue bad loans" when the vast majority of bad loans were made by companies w

              • If you look at the issuance rates of sub-prime loans you will find a remarkable coincidence - the rapid increase in generation of these loans is at the same time the capital requirements on large investment banks were lowered. With mortgage securitization fed by the immense amounts of money made available through increased leverage this crisis would have never happened. Blaming it on the CRA which happened nearly 20 years earlier is ludicrous.

          • by sjames (1099)

            You have been had. The government NEVER mandated or even suggested handing out loans to people who couldn't pay them back. It certainly never suggested trying to fit first time buyers into a McMansion.

            The second part is accurate enough though. There were a lot of hot potato loans out there that were fraudulently spun into AAA derivatives. Why there's been so little effort to prosecute them, I can only guess.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Too bad, all the lenders use the same ratings agency and so, the same voodoo numbers based on the same poor quality data that somehow linked your history with some deadbeat in another state. NO AMERICAN DREAM FOR YOU!

          As for the problem in 2008, they KNEW the risks. They just talked buyers into an EVEN RISKIER (but more profitable for them) situation and made sure to sell off the loan (as a AAA bond) long before the time-bomb went off.

        • Better risk analysis wouldn't have helped with the attitude of many people that "The market isn't going to crash", "Subprime lending is going to work out just fine", and "If it gets too bad we'll just pass the debt on to someone else!".

          Knowledge is great, but without insight it becomes meaningless.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Time for a social networking app to artificially improve "scores" based on social networking.

        I'm friends with that guy to bring him to Jesus. :)

    • Makes me wonder what life will be like for someone who does charity work with the homeless.

      "Well, We would like to give you a loan Mr. Smith, but half of your facebook friends have made comments about being broke, going into foreclosure and one was even eating out of a garbage can. We don't think you are the right candidate for a home loan. In spite of being gainfully employed for 30 years, the risk is just too great."

      • by vlm (69642)

        Makes me wonder what life will be like for someone who does charity work with the homeless.

        You comment on it being used to deny loans, but I think it more likely it would be used to deny life/health/auto insurance. And frankly, that is a fair use.

        Aside from eating out the garbage can (so far as I know) your other descriptions pretty accurately portray my ex-coworkers at an unnamed dying company... I escaped, but anyone still stuck working there or now unemployed, frankly should not be taking out a loan.

        • by sjames (1099)

          And according to your ties to them, neither should you. I guess you didn't fully escape after all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)

      There is nothing wrong about doing good due diligence before lending money.

      Sure ... up to a point. And that point was passed when banks, lenders and businesses linked up nationwide to share information about their customers.

      The entire credit system in this country (and others I suppose, but I only know what goes on in the U.S.) serve only to insulate companies from what are the normal costs of doing business. That is its purpose: it is not there for your benefit, not there for mine. Prior to the rise of the credit bureaus, a business would deem a customer worthy by its own hist

    • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @09:52AM (#33481380) Homepage

      "There is nothing wrong about doing good due diligence before lending money. "

      I don't believe that is what people are arguing against. The question is if it actually qualifies as due diligence. Would you really give an atta boy to your local bank when they refused to loan you money because you sometimes talk to that ne'er do well (in their eyes) Johnny down the street?

    • There is nothing wrong about doing good due diligence before lending money. Maybe the economy would be in better shape if we had more of this going on.

      Dude, the economy failed because a bunch of people got greedy and made too many unstable financial transactions.

  • I don't want to be processed by SkyNet for the sake of advertising!!!!
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @08:56AM (#33481172)

    From now on, I'm going to use a pseudonym here. If my employer knew I read slashdot, he'd probably expect me to fix the computers around the office or something.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Mmmmm, Mr. Bore, we have to talk. Have you seen the new cover for the TPS reports? I will need you to come to work on Saturday. Oh, and I will need you to go ahead and come to work on Sunday as well.

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symes (835608) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @08:57AM (#33481174) Journal
    I always search for any prospective employee online these days. I'm not sure whether this is right or wrong - it's just I don't want some problem around the corner that could have been predicted. That said, I am yet to find anything of interest on anyone... suggesting that so long as you are sensible with your online presence then you're probably ok. I do think having a social network is a plus - but material such as "I torture animals", and "omg, my crack habit is way out of control" would probably weigh somewhat negatively. I think it is all a bit over-hyped - at the end of the day, if someone is good then a few over-the-top parties aren't going to make a big difference ont he employability front. As for insurers, I am surprised, acturaries are supposed to be switched on and I fail to see how a very selective subsample, the online community, can be used meaningfully in calculating risk.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This approach doesn't work well at all for the many managers and executives who lean towards right-wing "ideals". They're too preoccupied by socially stigmatizing certain traits that they'll end up intentionally skipping many of the best candidates if they do in-depth research like that, especially into the personal lives of prospective employees.

      For example, one of the best Ruby developers I know is a raging homosexual. I'm not saying that in a negative way, or because he uses Ruby, or because he only uses

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhudson (43916)
        1. Create multiple dummy accounts, all saying what a wonderful person you are, the next Mother Theresa, hard-working, modest to a fault, inherited $N million but refuse to touch the capital, and donate the interest to charity and PACs for the tax deductions (along with some thank-yous from fake bishops and pastors, and a few aids to influential politicians for your generous financial contributions), etc. - throw in a couple of "previous employers" who still keep in touch because they want you to go back to wo
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        this is not interesting, it's stupid. a woman posting stuff like this would have problems too. I doubt the parent is telling the truth.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I hear this type of rationalizing from the left, that they are somehow more open to people of various flavors.

        Then I see their portrayal of everyone from supporters of the tea party to conservative Christians, and wonder if left-leaning management wouldn't even entertain the idea of discriminating against said members.

        Sorry bub, the left are just as fucked up and flawed as anyone else.

        • by funkatron (912521)
          I probably shouldn't bite but I will. GP talked about stuff you don't choose (gay), you talked about stuff you can choose (conservative Christian, tea party). It's not exactly the same thing is it?
        • The right tend to have similar prejudices; basically they hate anyone who isn't white, christian and middle class.

          The left on the other hand are more fragmented and divided - to the extent that you can get contradictory opinions in a sample of one.

          I'd say rightwing prejudices are worse, because the left can't even agree on what theirs are, hence they're more likely to cancel out.

      • by coryking (104614) *

        I don't think that many right-leaning managers would be able to hire somebody like him after seeing his Facebook profile

        Why would you want to work for somebody Ike that anyway? It would be clear from the start the two of you wouldn't be a good fit.

        • Why would you want to work for somebody Ike that anyway?

          Just a wild guess: being able to afford a home and food.

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday September 05, 2010 @10:38AM (#33481574)

        I don't think that many right-leaning managers would be able to hire somebody like him after seeing his Facebook profile. His blatant homosexuality would probably trigger the guilt those managers feel regarding their own repressed homosexuality, and they just wouldn't hire him, although skill-wise he was clearly the best candidate for the job. At least left-leaning managers tend to be more open to individualism among their employees.

        Left-leaning, right-leaning ... those are just words.

        What it comes down to is that you have no idea what prejudices a potential employer has. You can't, so it's always best to play things close to the vest. Matter of fact, that's good advice even after you're hired: just go to work, do your job well, and then go home to your private life. You're not being paid to express your inner self: you're being paid to do a job. Truth is, though, your average employer is not going to give a damn about your bizarro personal life, whether you like your asshole reamed by throbbing meaty cocks, that you're into hamster-stuffing, that you're a heavy-duty partier, or any of the myriad other oddball things people are into ... as long as you don't rub his or her face in it. Remember, that employer has to worry about how you are going to affect the other people who work for him or her, and will also be concerned about what his boss thinks about who he hires. Furthermore, no matter how valuable you may think you are, how much you believe an employer should overlook your particular peculiarities, in today's job market odds are he has another resume just as impressive as yours sitting on his desk, from someone who made a much better first impression.

        What's troubling a lot of job seekers nowadays is that they're finding out their online presence has already made that impression for them. Is that right or wrong? Well, your online presence is largely your own responsibility: you put it out there, and you can't really blame an interviewer for trying to find out all they can about a candidate. Keep in mind that resumes, job interviews, and for that matter Facebook pages provide only limited information to a potential employer. Thus, it behooves you, the candidate, to be very, very careful with your presentation. Think twice about what you post about yourself. It may very well come back to haunt you.

        Some people that feel they have the right to be free to express their true selves wherever they may be. To a great extent, that is true in the U.S. However, those same people often think they should be equally free of other people's opinions of them ... and that's just foolish. The law says that you cannot be discriminated against for certain attributes, true, but says nothing at all about most other things. Fact is, if you behave or appear too far outside the norm, you are going to limit your employability in most cases. A prospective employer doesn't have to tell you that it's your sexual preferences, your body modifications, your ink, your purple striped hair, the drunken photos of you on your Facebook page, or indeed anything that contributed to his decision to hire someone else. He just won't call you back for that second interview. Look, that's just the way it is, and denying it is like spittin' into the wind.

        • by sjames (1099)

          I'm not disagreeing that what you say is the way it works, but it certainly is not the way it needs to work. Essentially you are saying that the only way to not have personal life interfere with professional is to not have a personal life.

          Employers searching around the personal networking sites is no different than donning a disguise and stalking the prospective employee for a while. Many people do many things that they do not and never will bring to work. That defines professionalism. Let people be judged

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ScrewMaster (602015) *

            Essentially you are saying that the only way to not have personal life interfere with professional is to not have a personal life.

            Not at all, unless your personal life revolves solely around what you post on a Web page somewhere. What I'm saying is that, if you want to participate in social networking, take steps to make sure it doesn't interfere with your professional life. That might mean, for example, taking the very simple precaution of not using your real name on social networking sites. Take me, for instance. Do you think my real name is ScrewMaster? Sure, if someone really wants to know who I am, they can probably find out: I'

            • by sjames (1099)

              I fail to see the difference between that and suggesting that people wear a disguise and use a fake name when they go out socially just in case the boss is an extremely nosey closet prohibitionist with way too much free time.

              • I fail to see the difference between that and suggesting that people wear a disguise and use a fake name when they go out socially just in case the boss is an extremely nosey closet prohibitionist with way too much free time.

                In principle? Very little. In practice, the convenience and ubiquity of the Web make taking some precautions worthwhile. That's the natural consequence of having such tremendous connectedness in our lives. Face it, every major technological advance since the invention of fire (and probably even before that) has offered benefits, and also had associated risks. This is no different, and those who refuse to accept that and modify their behavior accordingly tend to get burned.

                • by sjames (1099)

                  I agree that in practice as things are now, your suggestions may be for the best. In principle, we need to do a lot of growing up socially in order to not have the connectedness abused. Unless and until that happens, perhaps employers (and creditors) should not be legally permitted to examine social networking. I say this because the principle is not an acceptable state of affairs.

                  • I agree that in practice as things are now, your suggestions may be for the best.

                    I wish it were different, but if wishes were horses even beggars would ride.

                    Unless and until that happens, perhaps employers (and creditors) should not be legally permitted to examine social networking. I say this because the principle is not an acceptable state of affairs.

                    The problem will never go away. And it really isn't a problem that government needs to be involved in, especially since the Internet is a world-wide phenomenon anyway. Your image is one of your best assets, and how you protect and nurture that asset is up to you. That's always been the case: you don't see the government telling employers that they can't take into account how a potential employee presents him or her-self at an interv

      • You mean the way that people who express disagreement with left wing talking points have trouble getting jobs at many universities. You know like the guy who was fired by the University of Illinois for explaining Catholic teachings on homosexuality to a student in his class on Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thoughtl?
      • And then, there is the opposite problem: Guys who are so deathly afraid of what others think of them, that they are some of the most boring people around. No doubt, some of them can be great employees as well, but too much blandness can also be considered a bad thing.
    • by foobsr (693224)
      ... I fail to see how a very selective subsample, the online community, can be used meaningfully in calculating risk.

      Agreed, but even 'science' relies on statistics without being able to come up with meaningful theories. Rating companies will care a lot less if there is a chance for profit with whatever dubious score they calculate from their 'analysis'.

      CC.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Not only that, I'm just waiting for the day when not having an online social network will be considered a "bad" thing. Kind of like how not having a credit history makes you a: bad credit risk - worse than having bad credit, unemployable, a terrorist (the TSA does credit checks when flying to see if you a "risk"), etc...
      • Not only that, I'm just waiting for the day when not having an online social network will be considered a "bad" thing. Kind of like how not having a credit history makes you a: bad credit risk - worse than having bad credit, unemployable, a terrorist (the TSA does credit checks when flying to see if you a "risk"), etc...

        So what if it does? Just post a few nice pictures of yourself with your family and be done with it. Hell, make up anything you want about yourself that you think a prospective employer would want to read.

        • Sorry, you didn't cover for your friend's farm in Farmville enough. We're not sure you're the type of person we can rely on. Thanks. Bye.

    • by vadim_t (324782)

      Everybody with half a brain does their weird stuff under an alias, and uses their real name only for things a potential employer won't mind seeing.

      The especially careful ones may be posting under impossible to google real names, like "Alice" or "John Smith", adopting ridiculously common nicknames like "Naruto", and having a separate identity for each community that they belong to.

      This is something most people figured out many years ago, and not just because of employment. Many children don't want their pare

      • that's all very well, but what about those without half a brain?

        Surely, it's not in society's interests that 30% (say) of the population are as good as unemployable, because they can't be discreet on Facebook.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      I wouldn't try that in Germany [slashdot.org] if I were you.

    • but material such as "I torture animals", and "omg, my crack habit is way out of control" would probably weigh somewhat negatively.

      Somewhat negatively? I suppose there are a few jobs where animal torturers and crack addicts would fit in, but not many.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Apparently you are tempering what you find with reasonability. That's more rare than you think. There have already been publicized cases of people fired for ONE perfectly legal but over the top party on a social networking site.

  • There are a lot of people that will let anyone be their online friend. After all you don't have to be around them physically, and as long as you're reasonably careful with details like your real address there tend to be few consequence for letting someone unsavoury onto a list of friends. What's more you can usually remove them again any time you like. Yes you can end up doing illegal things with company you meet online but in most cases you'd need to actively pursue it. That's nothing like the real world.

    • by drolli (522659)

      > There are a lot of people that will let anyone be their online friend.

      They are idiots. Letting somebody be your friend gives rise to all kinds of funny attacks, starting with the fact that usually your friends see/are notified when you are online (ok, there are enough social network where everybody sees that)... and continuing that you may be more exposed to injection vulnerabilities of the social; network you are using... going to that the person may get a much better clue who are your other friends..

      • I admit I go a bit crazy with followers/following on Twitter, but I long since figured I was smart to only use Facebook for people I know in real life (maybe a few close online contacts, especially those I later see in RL [such as talking with someone on a fansite and later meeting them at a concert]

      • by syousef (465911)

        Many (perhaps most) simply don't care about the sorts of attacks you are talking about.

        • by drolli (522659)

          They don't care about it even if they help scammers with this. They don't care about that people know when they are home and when not and what expensive equipment to look for (as an insurance i would refuse to pay for damages). How many things do you want to give people stalking you at their hands to threaten you?

          As i said: Idiots.

          Yes, i know i may seem paranoid. i have seen enough not to reconsider my position for a second. I try actually never to disclose any information which could identify me. Who needs

          • by syousef (465911)

            You do seem extremely paranoid, and also overly confident in your abilities to cover your tracks online.

            I'll bet you're the kind of guy that has an unlisted phone number and refuses to give it out unless absolutely necessary. The sort of person that would worry about paying by credit card even at a reputable store because it might be copied.

            But I bet you follow a regular enough routine that anyone that actually wanted to stalk you would be able to drive by your house a few times and get a very good feel for

            • by drolli (522659)

              i don't cover tracks online. i just don't leave them intentionally. I use the same pseudonym everywhere and i don't change it. i normally dont use credit cards and i would not know why somebody would need more than my e-mail address.

              Regarding stalking: the more powerful thing than trying to follow you could be to call at your workplace and complain about you by mixing a little bit of truth with a little bit of lies. Some workplaces don't react kind if some woman calls and tells your boss you owe her money.

  • If you are currnetly looking for work then it is important that you cut all ties to any charity organizations that you might work\volunteer for with ties poor people, ex-drug addicts, the homeless or the mentally ill. These people may have a bad credit score and if you are associated with them then you will never get a job.
    • by Americano (920576)

      Yes, if you're paranoid and have no notion of how credit scores work, you should do this immediately.

  • by rxan (1424721)
    of all of these whistleblower articles on slashdot these days. Is there nothing else by the constant formula of "Beneficial technology X. But X might and will be used for bad things!" It's always in the same tone. I mean, I've been on this site for about two years now and I'm just starting to get tired of the same old agenda.
  • grep -v "facebook group (.*) [emacs|ruby|vb]" crawler.txt > recruitment.txt

    Phillip.

  • If this becomes a everyman's Echelon can we expect a new era of quasi-puritanical social actions? Jesusland anyone?

    I hate the credit Houses and scores. I am a small business owner and I go from large cash reserves in August to negative cash by February ever year (this year was the last of that), so I get a credit score flux by 100 points in some weird cycle. My social network for are my volunteer associates (paramedics and rescue operations) and friends that went to a very small New England boarding school

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