Background checks and credit reports are routine when applying for a job or an apartment.
What’s missing from background checks today is information many people would consider private and protected information, such as your marital status, friends, political preferences and leisure activities – information that is dutifully recorded on social media.
That could be changing.
One service, called Tenant Assured, provides detailed reports assessing rental applicants’ personality traits, creditworthiness and financial risk by directly accessing their social media accounts, with the applicant’s consent.
Once you connect your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles to the Tenant Assured platform, it scrapes data from your accounts, including your activity, connections, employment, life events, age and interests, in order to prepare a tenant risk score.
Tenant Assured was recently launched by a UK-based startup called Score Assured (at the time of writing, Score Assured’s main website still had “Coming soon” listed for all its services).
Tenant Assured for landlords is Score Assured’s first product, but the company will soon offer a service for employers, called Recruit Assured.
Score Assured’s co-founder, Steve Thornhill, defends this invasion of privacy, because applicants must opt in, and “people will give up their privacy to get something they want,” according to a report in the Washington Post.
Besides, lack of privacy isn’t a problem if you have nothing to hide, Thornhill seems to believe, telling the Post:
If you’re living a normal life, then, frankly, you have nothing to worry about.
Even if you’re living a “normal” life, whatever that means, you might be concerned about what information of yours is being used by landlords or employers to assess you.
But Tenant Assured doesn’t allow tenants to see their reports or correct mistakes, and uses propriety algorithms to crunch your data, according to the Post.
Sure, you can refuse to submit to such an invasive check on your private accounts, tell the landlord or employer to mind their own business, and walk away.
There are other landlords or employers that still allow you to get an apartment or a job while keeping a modicum of privacy.
But if deep background checks like Tenant Assured become commonplace, will you have a choice?