Irish bank caught in social media spying storm

Irish bank caught in social media spying storm

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) has been accused of spying on its customers after it emerged that it monitors mortgage holders' social media accounts

According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, mortgage applicants now have to sign a consent form allowing the bank to check their social media accounts.

The banks says that this "helps us to understand your behaviour". however mortgage brokers that spoke to the Independent have hit out at AIB accusing it of playing "Big Brother with their social media information".

Of particular concern to one broker is the idea that a potential customer may have his mortgage application turned down because of a Facebook post - for example, a message in support of an anti-eviction protest or participation in an anti-capitalism event.

AIB is 71% owned by the Irish state and is also the country's biggest lender. 

While AIB is not the only bank to monitor social media, not all lenders have a similar consent clause in their credit applications. Meanwhile dasta privacy experts have asked whether consumers have the right to opt out of any anlaysis of their online data.

The issue of data privacy has also become of greater concern to consumers in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how Facebook data can be used by thrid parties for commercial gain. 

The bank has defended its social media monitoring, stating that it complies with all data protection requirements and only monitors "personal information provided on AIB Group social channels to respond and deal with customer queries".

The bank also added that it engages in "regular social listening" where it monitors trends and sentiment towards it brand on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. However, AIB stated that it never analyses individual customers' social media accounts or uses that information to analyse individual's behaviour. 

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