2.12.2010

The Socialization of Spending

Your credit card transactions are the focus point of a social networking site, blippy.com.

Blippy is
"a fun and easy way to see and discuss the things people are buying," according to their website.

Like Twitter, Blippy allows users to post updates about what they're doing, which books they are reading, and what songs they are listening to - but not by simply stating such information. Instead, Blippy users register a credit card to their account and "status updates" become "transaction updates" everytime they make a purchase.



Blippy users allow their credit card to create transaction updates not only about where they spend money, but in some cases how much they spent, and what exactly they spent it on. They also have the ability to comment on user purchases or "like" them - the social aspect of the site.

I'll admit, many of my peers and I are open to the concept that privacy on the internet is gone, but now I think...privacy is dead. Yes, of course, only those people who want to share this type of information on the internet sign up for Blippy accounts, and even those with an account can choose to limit who has access to their transaction updates, but the fact that this site has even a mediocre following worries me. What does this new networking site imply about social sharing, and more importantly, is it useful for anything?

In my opinion, this is way over sharing (although not the first example, see Facebook's Beacon). We already live in world where you can find out where somebody goes to school, who their past three employers were, and what kind of coffee they drink while writing papers - all you have to do is Google a name, look at a Twitter account, or view a Facebook profile and you have instant access to a wealth of personal information. Starting a conversation on Twitter about a great article you read is one thing. Allowing your credit card to report to the whole world that you just spent $19.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond on a Snuggie and allowing your friends to comment on your purchase - well that's just too much for me.

There are also potential hazards associated with a site like Blippy. There is the threat of hackers gaining access to users credit card information, and while Blippy has promised not to share user information with third-parties, maybe users have yet to read the fine print.

If I had to choose one thing this social networking site might be useful for (and this is hard to do), I would say: market research. For example, it might be useful for a firm to track their client's book sales - where they are purchasing from and what users have to say about this - any type of purchase patterns among users.

If our spending habits are now a component of social media, who knows? Maybe in ten years from now we will all have mobile phones which live stream updates about our body temperatures and heart rates to our Twitter accounts for our friends to comment on.

Stephen Colbert takes a satirical approach to the over sharing situation.


I'm curious to hear what you think. Would you tweet about your spending habits on Twitter?

4 comments:

  1. I agree that sharing spending transactions using social media seems to push the boundaries regarding safety.Loved the Colbert clip!

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  2. I couldn’t agree more, privacy IS dead. But the fact that people are willing to take it to entire new level ( I didn’t think there was one) and actually have their spending habits on display for the world, is pretty ridiculous. Obviously, we have all gotten over the initial shock of face book and twitter and their capabilities of letting us know what everyone is doing, who theyre doing it with and how they feel about it. But this seems a little too extreme even for our generation where privacy is pretty much dead. Yes, it is true that the site is entirely optional and no one has to share any of their spending information, but face book and twitter are optional as well, and look how popular they are now. Obviously, this is an entire different kind of social site, and is possibly dangerous, but people seem to be yearning for some more windows into the lives (and spending decisions, apparently) of others.

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  3. WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO!? Honestly i have no idea why people would sign up for this. I like the fact of sharing your interest to people online but offering the public to see your transactions on your credit card is ridiculous. What is the reason for people to publish the amount they spend on a item on a daily basis? If anything this is a way for people to stalk individuals using the transaction updates. For example, if I went to The Gap every Friday to buy a shirt for the weekend with the price of around 24.95 + (mind you i do not do this), someone could use this information to find me. They could also know how much money you are spending and therefore see how careless you are, another reason to steal your wallet. I do not understand if people use this to brag about their spending or something along those lines but i find it completely useless.

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  4. I agree completely. The only thing this site could be useful for is market research. And if companies are using this information for market research, how do you know the website is not sharing all your credit information as well. Not to mention hackers! If someone hacked into your account, they would know all your credit information instantly. This is going too personal. Sharing credit card information is dangerous in the first place. And who wants everyone to know how much they are spending, on what, and where? That just seems odd to me. There other ways to figure what's "hot" and "popular". What if one day you spend X amount of doallars at victoria secrtet. Do you really want everyone to know how much you spend on your undergarmets? And if you answered yes, well then you might want to reflect on that for a few moments. This is your privacy your making public. Be smart. Some things are just meant to be kept private.

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