Saturday 26 May 2018

Bank could have done us all a favour and put stop to stupid 'oversharing'

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Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Just because banks have a bad reputation doesn't mean everything they do is wrong.

Remember when, in the words of the late Brian Lenihan, "we all partied" and then the country went bust.

Naturally the late finance minister's comments in 2010 were met with a mixture of public outrage and private self-reflection.

Not everybody partied but an awful lot of people did. And the Celtic Tiger binge was fuelled by the banks, who handed out cash without any thought for the consequences.

But we apparently learned our lesson and now demand that banks hold themselves to a higher standard. In turn, it seems AIB wanted to keep a closer eye on customers to make sure we weren't losing the run of ourselves again. What's good for the goose, is good for the gander.

The plan to check-in on mortgage applicants' nights out and days at the races was quickly reversed once it made the front page of yesterday's Irish Independent.

Perhaps feeling it could do without the bad publicly, AIB dropped the idea of playing Big Brother.

But if people are stupid enough to post on Facebook that they didn't pay their electricity bill, why shouldn't the bank snoop on them?

We might well have all owed AIB a debt of gratitude if it forced people to think twice before they 'overshare'.

There was a time when everybody was a bit naive about the power and reach of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

I will openly admit to having taken part in the Neknomination craze in 2014. Not my finest moment, but a learning curve.

Should it have influenced my bank manager years later about whether to give me a mortgage? Absolutely not.

But we all know adults who give online updates on their 'sick days' from work and boast about splashing cash they don't have. Should the bank know about that? For all our sakes, yes.

Facebook stalking by banks does run the risk that decision-makers might be influenced by political postings. That should never happen.

But there is some merit in having a bank measure your posts. Then again, you could just up your privacy settings.

Irish Independent

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