Does your car insurer monitor your Facebook? This one will

2 Nov 201615 Shares

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Driving and Facebook. Image: Twin Design/Shutterstock

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A UK car insurance company is taking a novel approach to customer research, checking out Facebook profiles to determine personality traits.

Looking at your posts, and your posts only, Admiral’s ‘firstcarquote’ service is certainly eye-catching.

Judging your Facebook activity, the company hopes its algorithm can determine the difference between risky drivers and conscientious ones.

Considering social media is hardly the domain of the rational and well organised, this seems like a questionable idea.

Facebook

According to The Guardian, Admiral will look out for 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,” the report said.

Claiming this is a way of users achieving discounts on their insurance, Admiral says customers decide how much they want to share, though the level of what they share will have an “impact” on the discount.

“We want to help make sure safe drivers aren’t penalised and get the best price possible. To do this, we’ll look at your Facebook profile to help us get a better understanding of the type of driver you are,” Admiral said.

“There’s a proven link between personality and how people drive, and our clever technology allows us to predict who is likely to be a safe driver.”

The company is using Amazon Web Services for storage of users’ data, and claims it will only have access to a “static snapshot” of your social media data during the quote process.

This is not the first time an insurer has gotten creative of late, as a US health insurer recently bet big on the Apple Watch. Aiming to “revolutionise” its customers’ health experience, Aetna is giving an Apple Watch to each of its 50,000 employees.

It will also subsidise a “significant portion” of the cost of the watches to select large employers and individual customers.

Subsequently, Aetna will roll out some of its own iOS apps for its customers to use, most likely providing the company with a few more real-time readings than usual.

Updated, 2.05pm, 2 November 2016: 

Facebook has been in touch since this story broke, clarifying its stance on how data will be used.

“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,” said a spokesperson for the company.

“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. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes. Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.”

Driving and Facebook. Image: Twin Design/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com