The Bank of England will use Twitter and Facebook to set interest rates

The Bank of England has traditionally used past trends to monitor the state of the economy, setting interest rates accordingly. But now, as Engadget reports, it’s going to be using tools that are a little more up-to-date, factoring social media into its equations.

A new team will start using the internet, specifically search terms, Twitter, and Facebook, as part of the Bank’s economic analysis. The team will log the frequency of job searches, check out online prices on all kinds of products, and observe the kinds of conversations people are having about money.

According to Sky News, the Bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, set up this taskforce after using similar data to impose controls on the housing market earlier this year. He considers info collected in this way to be more up-to-date than official data, telling Sky, ‘Official statistics tend to be lagging and tend to be revised. And what this scraping of the web can do is give us a better read on what’s going on.’ (It feels like there’s the potential here for the UK population to pull a large-scale prank on the Bank of England, but luckily for them, most of us are too busy trying to earn money to be bothered.)

Haldane says an analytics team is at work designing algorithms so the online data collected can be analysed as accurately as possible. Just be aware that next time you moan about not having enough disposable income, or share a photo of those pretty new shoes, the Bank of England could be making financial decisions that affect the whole country as a result.

Image via Duncan Harris’ Flickr.

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