Usually, if you’re about to apply for a job, you’d check over your social media pages to make sure your drunk photos aren’t the the first thing your potential employers could see. I bet you’ve never thought about doing it before applying for a car insurance quote?
Admiral have been forced to scrap plans to use Facebook posts to analyse the personalities of car owners and look for personality traits linked to safe driving. They created an app called ‘firstcarquote’ which allows Admiral to set the the price of customer’s insurance after checking out their Facebook pages.
Admiral identify personal traits by looking at posts and likes by Facebook users. Apparently, “Facebook users who write in short, concise sentences, use lists, and arrange to meet friends at a set time and place, rather than just “tonight”, would be identified as conscientious.” (Ruddick. 2016) “Admiral would be looking at writing style, use of calendars or accounting apps, as well as vocabulary before deciding on a deal for the driver.” (Brown. 2016)
Some people are very different in real life compared to their online presence. It would be unfair of a company to make assumptions about someone’s personality based on the way they write or comments they post.
Facebook have stopped Admiral from being allowed to use data from Facebook to determine quotes. Facebook accounts will now only be used for login and verification purposes. On Facebook’s policy is states that the sites dad shouldn’t be used to “make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan”. (Facebook. 2016)
The executive director of Open Right Group stated, “Social networks do not want you to feel inhibited. What should be relevant to financial companies is financial information.” (Killock. 2016) I couldn’t agree more. Admiral have no reason to have to access personal information. Just because someone doesn’t specify a meeting time on their conversation or writes with a lot of exclamation marks, doesn’t mean they’re a dangerous driver.
Killock also says, “Insurers and financial companies who are beginning to use social media data need engage in a public discussion about the ethics of these practices.” (Killock. 2016)
Admiral clearly had not thought about the ethical implementations this ‘idea’ could have had. People post on their Facebook pages to their imagined audiences who are their friends. They wouldn’t expect a company to then use this information against them. It would be unethical to do this.
I recently wrote a blog post about whether or not scraping Twitter is ethical or not. This relates to the Admiral and Facebook situation. The difference between Facebook and Twitter is that on Facebook you have to accept everyone first before they can read what you post. In my opinion, I am completely against Admiral’s idea as I believe it is unethical and an inappropriate use of personal data.
Brown, A. (2016) Facebook just banned one of the ‘CREEPIEST’ uses of its website. Available at: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/727993/Facebook-Ban-Block-Admiral-Car-Insurance (Accessed: 4 November 2016).
Facebook (2016) Platform policy – Facebook for developers. Available at: https://developers.facebook.com/policy/ (Accessed: 4 November 2016).
Killock, J. cited in BBC (2016) Facebook blocks admiral’s car insurance discount plan. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/37847647 (Accessed: 4 November 2016).
Killock, J. cited in Lomas, N. (2016) Facebook slaps down admiral’s plan to use social media posts to price car insurance premiums. Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/02/uk-car-insurance-firm-wants-to-scan-social-media-posts-to-price-premiums/amp/ (Accessed: 4 November 2016).
Ruddick, G. (2016) Facebook forces admiral to pull plan to price car insurance based on posts. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/nov/02/facebook-admiral-car-insurance-privacy-data (Accessed: 4 November 2016).