Future Tense

Facebook Says Insurance Company Can’t Set Premiums Based on Users’ Posts

Facebook blocked Admiral Insurance from using customers’ posts to try and determine if they would be safe drivers.

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Facebook has blocked a U.K. insurance company’s plan to use information from customers’ posts in order to assign premiums.

According to the Guardian, Admiral Insurance, one of Britain’s largest insurance companies, planned to analyze “the Facebook accounts of first-time car owners to look for personality traits that are linked to safe driving. For example, individuals who are identified as conscientious and well-organised will score well.” It called the intiative “firstcarquote,” and participation would have been optional. The Guardian reported that “Admiral was due to launch firstcarquote officially on Wednesday but delayed it with just two hours to go.”

Facebook’s platform policy Section 3.15 says the social media site’s data should not be used to “make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan.”

The Guardian reports that firstcarquote would “examine posts and likes, although not photos, looking for habits that research shows are linked” to responsibility and safe driving—like “writing in short, concise sentences, using lists, and arranging to meet friends at a set time and place.”

After Facebook blocked the launch, an Admiral spokesperson told the Guardian that firstcarquote “is currently a beta product” and said:

Admiral does not have access to customers’ Facebook data and does not hold social media data to set prices for its customers. Following discussions with Facebook the product is launching with reduced functionality, allowing first-time drivers to login using Facebook and share some information to secure a faster, simpler and discounted quote.

Facebook said this “reduced functionality” launch would involve Admiral asking users who log in using Facebook “to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.”