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Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Matthew Bruckner

Interesting post, Jeff.

Re the first point, perhaps plain language is enough, but sometimes I feel that some sort of annotations would be even more helpful. Something like the instructions that come with a 1040EZ that explain what each line is for. For example, I just negotiated a solar panel installation contract. There were lots of promises made via email and in an oral presentation about the expected output of these panels. But the contract also had a merger clause. Even written in plain English, it's not clear that the average consumer would realize that all of the promises made before signing the contract were being excluded via this one clause. But maybe it's just that the devil is in the details on what, exactly, "plain language" means.

Re the second point, I suspect that the answer to whether social network data improve credit access depends on whether you are similarly situated to others in your peer group. For example, if you are a unusually financially prudent 19 year old, you are likely to be penalized by social network data because you will be lumped with peers who are probably not as prudent.

And I imagine that Facebook's patent might relate to their own use of that data in the future and is not necessarily about selling it to third parties.

As for empirical testing, there are certainly companies out there that claim to be using social media data in credit underwriting decisions. And there is some early data, particularly from the Philadelphia Fed evaluating these loans.

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