The power of social networks …

I’ve long been interested in the social networking phenomena and particularly how it polarises opinions. Of all the recent incarnations, the one that has polarised the most opinion has to be Facebook. Now, I’ve posted before about it (and if you want a more in depth view I can heartily recommend JP Rangaswami‘s blog – confused of calcutter) but this mornings FT.com article made me smile and I just had to post part of it here.

Under the title Facebook Revolt forces HSBC U-turn the article reports that …

“….HSBC on Thursday reversed its decision to take away students’ interest-free overdrafts as soon as they leave university after it suffered a consumer revolt by graduates on the pages of Facebook, the cult social-networking site.
The bank said it was not “too big” to listen to customers and that it would freeze interest charges on overdrafts up to £1,500 for students who graduated this summer, repaying any interest charged in August……. ”
“……The move would have cost a graduate who had the maximum interest-free overdraft of £1,500 nearly £12 a month, or more than £142 a year. But a group set up a month ago on Facebook by Wes Streeting, a vice-president of the National Union of Students, called “Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off”, attracted strong support from members of the social-networking site which is hugely popular with students and graduates.
The group, which attracted more than 5,000 members, caused acute embarrassment to HSBC at a time when all high street banks are busy marketing their services to young people arriving at university for the first time this September.
Mr Streeting said: “There can be no doubt that using Facebook made the world of difference to our campaign.
“By setting up a group on a site that is incredibly popular with students, it enabled us to contact our members during the summer vacation far more easily than would otherwise have been possible.
“It also meant that we could involve our former members – the graduates who were going to be most affected by this policy.”
“….. On Thursday Andy Ripley, HSBC’s head of product development, announced the climbdown and said the bank would work with the NUS to “enhance our new account offer so that it fully reflects the needs of recent graduates”.
Members of the group celebrated the bank’s U-turn by posting messages on the campaign’s Facebook page…”

As Wolfie Smith would say – power to the people !

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