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Posted on 10.04.2012

Social Media Is Raising the Cost of Living

It seems impossible to think there is anyone left on the face of the planet who is not connected by some type of social media- LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or any of the other social networks we have grown so accustomed to using. We love it because it is a free way of staying connected. Whether your involvement in social media is casual or habitual, professional or purely for fun, have you ever taken a moment to consider the impact your social media use is having on your life? I don't mean time wise, or how many friends you've reconnected with from your 4th grade class, but what effect it's having on your wallet? 

Yep, that's right. Social media applications may be free to download and install, but they do come with a price. For instance, according to AAA News Room data, the cost of owning and operating a midsize sedan vehicle in 2012 is, on average, $8,946. This number has steadily grown over the last few years at a 2% rate. Sure, some of that is due to the increase of fuel and other factors, but did you know that AAA explains that one of the largest components in the rise of operating costs is due to significant increases in insurance.

At this point youre probably wondering where Im going with this. AAA attributes at least some of the increase in insurance costs as a side effect of social media. How? Here's one that might throw you for a loop: insurance companies are using your social media accounts to assess your risk level when evaluating you for a policy. And this crosses over to life insurance, home owners insurance, and even health insurance in some cases.

Insurance underwriters are reading your Twitter posts to see if you enjoy high-risk activities like drag racing or sky diving, and notice posts that indicate if you travel frequently. Sadly, many have fallen victim to posting about their out-of-town weekend plans only to return to a ransacked house with no electronics. Insurance companies are aware and watching what you share in social media. It's not hard to imagine how a health insurance underwriter might respond to posts that indicate an insured (or potential insured) smokes cigarettes, enjoys snuff, "likes" bacon more than 4,7 million Facebook users do) and tweets that "cholesterol over 200 means you're really living."

So word to the wise, beware of how much information you're giving out, especially in open forums like Foursquare that automatically imply that you're not at home. As one of the top 25 web celebs and Time Magazine's 100 in 2010, Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder of Mashable, said "Privacy is dead, and social media holds the smoking gun."  

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