Facebook Asks Big Banks for Detailed User Data

August 14, 2018 - 3 minutes read

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke news, Facebook’s reputation suffered in a way it hasn’t quite rebounded from yet. Not only did people think the social media platform had too much data about users already, but it was also giving app developers easy avenues to access it.

Now, Facebook is after a new type of data — your financial information.

A Sweet Deal for Both Parties

Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook requested big banks, such as Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase, to give it customer financial data. Located less than an hour outside of San Francisco, the company is reportedly interested in every facet of consumers’ finances, from account balances to credit card transactions.

It’s not that there isn’t anything in this offer for the banks themselves. These traditional financial institutions have faced fierce competition from the likes of Venmo and PayPal. Partnering with Facebook could help banks take back some business by having a larger presence on the social media site’s Messenger app.

The Messenger app boasts a whopping 1.3 billion users and serves as Facebook’s commerce center. Users can link their bank account to the app and contact their customer service for a number of popular credit cards. If banks partnered with Facebook, they could perhaps expand on this in ways like integrating fraud alerts or account balance notifications.

Ulterior Motives?

Not all of the reasons for Facebook’s request seem clear; officially, the company wants users to spend more time on its Messenger app. But is that really all there is to it?

Facebook promised to never use the financial data in its ad targeting. “We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads,” explains Elisabeth Diana, a spokeswoman for the company. “We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.”

Conclusions from Precedents

As we all know, Facebook’s track record with user data isn’t the most spotless.

The results of this request reflect that; so far, no bank has accepted the company’s partnership offering. One of them even specifically cited concerns for their customer’s privacy as the main reason.

What do you think of this development with the social media tech titan? How would you feel if your bank partnered with Facebook in this endeavor? Before recent events, this may have passed under the radar of consumers. But at this point, it’s safe to say that many people feel that giving Facebook financial information may be taking it a step too far.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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