Facebook blocks car insurer
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British insurance heavyweight Admiral wants to analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car buyers to see whether their personalities suggest they will be safe drivers.
But the firm may have hit a bump in the road, as it appears Facebook has blocked the tool.
Facebook says it is protecting the privacy of its users, and that Admiral's plans go against its guidelines.
Open Rights Group, a digital rights campaigner, says Facebook’s move should be welcomed as the plan is intrusive and inappropriate.
The Admiral service, called firstcarquote, was scheduled to launch this week.
Under the planned trial, Admiral wants to offer a first car quote to young motorists between age 17 and 21 using an app.
The service is designed to look at a variety of traits, such as how well organised someone is, based on whether they use times and locations when arranging to meet others.
It wants to do this using sentence length and structure and use of words, but will not be able to look at photos.
It works based on algorithms created by Admiral looking for links between social media information and car insurance claims data.
It will also constantly change as analysis continues.
But a notice on the company's website says it “still has to sort a few final details”.
The insurer adds that the app will now launch with reduced functionality, although it is not clear what this reduced functionality may be.
A Facebook spokesperson told web magazine Engadget: “Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us.
“We have clear guidelines that prevent information obtained from Facebook 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.”
On its website, Admiral said: “Firstcarquote is a new insurance service created by Admiral to help people who are buying or driving their first car.
“As well as helping new drivers get cheaper car insurance, firstcarquote can help drivers who haven't yet bought a car figure out which make and model will be cheapest for them to insure.
“New drivers are often quoted much higher insurance premiums as they have little driving history, zero no-claims bonus and are viewed as high risk.
“But we want to help make sure safe drivers aren't penalised and get the best price possible.”
It added: “It's scientifically proven that some personalities are more likely to have an accident than others. But standard insurance questions don't tend to measure personality.
“At firstcarquote, we look at a driver's personality by analysing some of their Facebook data and if we see indicators that you will be a careful driver, we will give you a discount of between 5 and 15 per cent off the price you would get on admiral.com.”