One bank is already lending on the basis of borrowers being able to get Facebook friends to serve as human collateral.
Perhaps no company has gone as far as Lenddo, a Hong Kong start-up that owns online lenders in Colombia and the Philippines. Loan-seekers ask Facebook friends to vouch for them. To determine if those who say “yes” are real friends rather than mere Facebook contacts, Lenddo’s software checks messages for shared slang or wording that suggests affinity. What’s more, the credit scores of those who have vouched for a borrower are damaged if he or she fails to repay. Put the word out about this “social-enforcement mechanism” and “boom, the money shows up,” says Jeff Stewart, Lenddo’s boss.
Nothing like having your digital kneecaps broken because some deadbeat friend of yours couldn’t make a payment. Better purge all those high school friends from your Facebook who aren’t likely to be successful; get rid of all those college friends who seem weird or who update about unsavory low-class, low-status things. Reify your habitus! And do it fast, before it costs you. Never mind that your habitus is precisely what you take for granted about how you see the world: subject yourself to rigorous observation and then make yourself conform to the signifiers of status! You wouldn’t want your friends to get hurt, would you? You wouldn’t want them to drop you, right?
-Rob Horning, “Social-Media Redlining and ‘Social Enforcement’ “