Facebook blocks personality-driven premiums

Admiral’s plans to view young drivers’ profiles on Facebook to help it assess individual risk and premiums has been blocked by the social media platform.

In an effort to offer cheaper policies to first-time drivers aged 17-21, Admiral had hoped to identify low risk motorists according to their likes and posts on Facebook. Using computer algorithms, an app would monitor social media entries to help create ‘a reputational track record in the absence of a driving history or no claims bonus.’

Admiral, which said it would only be used with drivers’ consent, predicted discounts of between five and 15 per cent.

However, Facebook has blocked the move, saying, ‘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. Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.’

Similar technology is being used elsewhere in the world, for example in Africa, but the proposed UK trial attracted criticism from some groups.

Jim Killock, executive director of digital rights body, Open Rights Group, told the BBC, ‘Whether intentional or not, algorithms could perpetuate social biases that are based on race, gender, religion or sexuality. Will we start self-censoring our social media out of fear that we will be judged a high risk at some point in the future?’

Instead, Facebook has agreed to let users log in to the Admiral app via their accounts for verification purposes.

Admiral said, ‘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.’