Facebook has blocked a car insurance company's plan to analyse customers' social media posts to decide their prices
The UK insurance company had planned to take into account everything from the length of sentences in posts, to the frequency of exclamation marks, and the use of superlatives like "never" to automatically decide how many customers should pay be insured, with The Guardian reporting on the plans early on Wednesday.
But Facebook has promptly shot down the idea.
"Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us," the social network said in an emailed statement. "We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility."
People immediately criticised Admiral's idea when reports about the initiative were published early on Wednesday. Users on Twitter argued it violated customers' privacy and is outright dystopian.
Off we go to Fiverr to buy a fake account with "safe", insurer friendly updates. https://t.co/ZLiS8HCkos- Damien Mulley ¸ (@damienmulley) November 2, 2016
A vision of the present-future: auto insurance modulated by Facebook posts. This is just the beginning... https://t.co/qcVo5Q7EC8- Trevor Paglen (@trevorpaglen) November 2, 2016
Privacy issues aside, this is utterly extraordinary. What's the evidence base for the links they are making? https://t.co/tQnYB1Y7jZ- Steve Forden (@mammuthus) November 2, 2016
When asked about whether the plan was invasive, Admiral's lead on the project, Dan Mines, denied that was the case.
"It is incredibly transparent. If you don't want to use it in a quote then you don't have to," he told The Guardian. "We are doing our best to build a product that allows young people to identify themselves as safe drivers."
Facebook, however, isn't buying that line. It has pulled the plug, labelling it a violation of its privacy policies.
Here's the full statement from Facebook:
"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.
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."