Soon there may need to be the equivalent of a Miranda Warning for social media accounts. Something the reads, “Anything you post, like, comment on, chat about, or include in private messages can and will be used against you.” That reminder could be needed if British startup Score Assured’s service for landlords catches on, according to the Washington Post.
Score Assured’s service works like this. You apply to be a tenant. The landlord says something along the lines of, “Okay, fill out this application. Also, we require a background service by a service we contract with. All prospective tenants must have a background check.” So you, perhaps thinking it’s similar to a credit or criminal background check, agree. In the next step, you connect with Score Assured, which requires that you grant it full access to your social media accounts while assuring you that the more accounts you grant access to, the better.
It’s no secret that employers and others scan social media accounts to check people out. Too many out-of-control party shots or inappropriate, dangerous, or threatening posts can hurt your reputation and spoil your chances for a job, a date, an internship, and even a place to live. Without asking any icky and dangerous-to-the-asker protected-class questions, anyone who looks at your Facebook account will usually have an idea of your age, your gender, your ethnicity or race, interests, and also what you feel is worthy of posting. So that stuff is all out there.
But Score Assured’s service goes much deeper. The company requires you to grant access to everything. Have you complained about your landlord in a chat message, PM’d someone about how wasted you were at work last week, mentioned your big score or commented on someone else’s? They’ll see it all. Wrote a private message to someone bemoaning your financial circumstances? That too. Score Assured awards you a risk score which only the landlord sees, with summaries of trigger terms you used in categories such as crime and financial. The report also rates your personality on traits such as openness, conscientiousness, and neurosis, with comments about how your scoring for each trait matters to a landlord.
Score Assured’s future plans include providing social media analysis reports for employers. The service may grow from there and if it’s successful, you can be sure there will be other companies offering similar social media checks. The person being checked has no opportunity to review or request changes on reports.
If Score Assured’s service sounds invasive, intrusive, and ripe with opportunity for abuse, you don’t have to agree to grant access. But then, if the landlord of your prospective apartment wants it, what choice would you have? If you believe this service or others like it will become popular among landlords and employers, it might be time to re-think how you use social media.