Facebook Blocks Admiral's Fuzzy Move to Base Car Insurance Prices on Social Media Posts [Updated]

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

UPDATE 13.00: A Facebook spokesperson has issued the following statement:

Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us. We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility.

We have made sure anyone using this app is protected by our guidelines and that no Facebook user data is used to assess their eligibility. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes.

Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.

The original article follows.

Insurance firm Admiral’s attempt to harvest more detailed user data without causing massive amounts of outrage has been blocked by Facebook, according to the Open Rights Group.

Admiral said it wanted to start calculating insurance prices for first-time car owners by analysing their Facebook posts… because everyone is exactly the same online as they are offline. Though it claimed it wouldn’t examine photos as part of the firstcarquote initiative, every other scrap of data appeared to be up for grabs.

Admiral said it would look for personality traits linked to safe driving, adding that the frequent use of exclamation marks and words like “always” or “never” in Facebook posts smacks of overconfidence, while short sentences, lists and formal meeting times for get-together with friends were all signs of being less likely to have fun crash a vehicle. Crikey.

“It is incredibly transparent,” said Dan Mines, who led the firstcarquote initiative. “If you don’t want to use it in a quote then you don’t have to,” he said. “We are doing our best to build a product that allows young people to identify themselves as safe drivers.”

The voluntary scheme was meant to launch earlier this week, but has now been blocked by Zuckerberg and his posse, as Facebook’s Platform Policy section 3.15 states:

Don’t use data obtained from Facebook to make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan.

Open Rights Group says it’s fully behind Facebook’s decision, with executive director Jim Killock saying, “Such intrusive practices could see decisions being made against certain groups based on biases about race, gender, religion or sexuality – or because their posts in some way mark them as unconventional. Ultimately, this could change how people use social media, encouraging self-censorship in anticipation of future decisions.

“Young people may feel pushed into such schemes because of financial constraints. The right to keep things private shouldn't be the preserve of those who can afford it.” [Guardian]