Social media is a great tool for finding out what people are thinking and what current concerns are around the country.
It may come as little to surprise to discover that money worries are dominating the UK’s Twitter timelines and Facebook feeds this month as the financial consequences of heavy spending over Christmas and New Year begin to kick in.
Our recent enthusiastic adoption of America’s Black Friday sales in late November has also played a part.
Research carried out by Zopa has found that since the start of the year Brits have been 35% more likely to tweet using the word “debt” and a third more likely to mention their overdraft.
Meanwhile, terms such as “brassic” and “penniless” have increased in usage on social media by more than half.
Zopa’s CEO, Giles Andrews, says: “With events such as Black Friday in November and many online retailers beginning their January sales on Christmas Day, it’s very easy to get carried away with your money over the holiday season. As a result, more people are turning to social media to share their financial woes.”
“However, they would be better served seeking sound financial advice and cutting their expenditure on unmanageable forms of credit such as credit cards, store cards and payday loans to set them up for a financially fitter 2015.”
If you’re a regular user of social media, you’ll be aware of how freely some people are willing to share private and personal information with their followers, friends and the rest of the internet in general.
But is it wise to make public the fact that you are facing some kind of financial difficulty?
Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon and many of us are still working out its ground rules and etiquette. But there are a couple of social media-related issues that spring to mind here.
In the early days, people were warned about the dangers of putting too much information on the web – photos from drunken nights out, that sort of thing – that could prejudice potential employers were they to run an online search for job applicants.
More recently, it has been pointed out that telling the world via Twitter, say, that you were about to go off on a fortnight’s holiday could be a particularly handy piece of information for burglars if you had also made public enough details for them to work out where you lived.
Could oversharing about debt issues have similarly dramatic consequences? It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to envisage a time when banks or credit reference agencies take into account social media posts when making lending decisions or compiling credit reports – and this could happen sooner than many people think.
It might be a cynical view, but when you are divulging personal information online it is worth thinking: “How could this be held against me at some point in the future?”
And remember: Even though it may be a one-off tweet of financial frustration, once something is on the internet it can never really be deleted.