Insurance Company Wanted to Use Facebook Posts to Determine Insurance Rates

The idea ends up totally backfiring, but it's not over yet

#Data

Wed, Nov 2nd, 2016 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Guardian, Admiral Insurance was planning on using Facebook posts and likes to determine if their customer is a safe driver, using the following criteria:

The insurer will examine posts and likes by the Facebook user, although not photos, looking for habits that research shows are linked to these traits. These include writing in short concrete sentences, using lists, and arranging to meet friends at a set time and place, rather than just “tonight”.

In contrast, evidence that the Facebook user might be overconfident – such as the use of exclamation marks and the frequent use of “always” or “never” rather than “maybe” – will count against them.

While the insurance company called this "completely transparent," it was forced to pull the initiative after "the social media site blocked it." Reportedly, "Facebook said protecting the privacy of its users was of the utmost importance to it," which really is a first.

The insurance company faced criticism for the scheme from law firms. Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Their [insurance companies] repeated profiling of people is sadly unsurprising – this smacks of a captive market so arrogant it doesn’t care about how it treats or is seen to treat its customers. Thankfully Facebook has quickly taken steps that the insurers couldn’t see fit to do and pulled the plug on this shambles.”

Of course, since money can be made from your data, I'm sure it won't be long until a similar Facebook-approved scheme will pop-up again.

Secondly, the IoT can help insurers manipulating our behaviour, through policy conditions and incentives. Discounts can quickly become penalties once expectations about data disclosure shift from novel to normal. As surveillance by insurers “becomes more accepted”, argues law professor Scott Peppet, “it will give rise to its own stigma: when disclosure becomes low-cost and routine, those who hold out are suspect”. Impeding the flow of data – and grasping for privacy – “may carry with it the presumption that one is hiding information”.

So unless you can afford the financial and social cost of suspicion, you are left with no real choice but to comply with insurers’ demands for data.

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