Irish Banking Group AIB Accused of ‘Spying’ on Customers’ Social Media Accounts

User privacy on social media platforms is arguably the hot topic of the moment, and as such it stands to reason that consumers and industry insiders alike are being particularly vigilant when it comes to the practices employed by companies in regards to the gathering and use of our personal data. The latest to get caught up in this furore are banking group Allied Irish Bank (AIB), who have recently been accused of spying on the social media accounts of their customers.

According to a report in the Irish Independent, mortgage applicants now have to sign a consent form allowing the bank to check their social media accounts. The bank insists this is necessary as it “helps us to understand your behaviour”, however mortgage brokers have spoken out against AIB and accusing the banking group of playing “Big Brother with their social media information”.

One major issue here is that the banking group seem to offer no way to opt out; basically if you wish to do business with the bank, you must agree to this ‘check’ of your online presence. For many this may present issues, with those involved in activist movements such as anti-eviction rallies surfacing as a notable example of groups who may suffer at the hands of this practice.

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” whereby it monitors trends and sentiment towards the 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 any individual’s behaviour.

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