Facebook refuses to allow insurance giant to trawl through personal data
Facebook has said insurance giant Admiral will not be allowed to offer drivers reduced quotes by allowing their profiles to be scoured in a bid to determine their personalities.
Admiral had been planning to offer people buying their first car the option of joining a scheme which could see them getting discounts of up to 15 per cent.
The insurer has now rowed back on the plans, which would have used algorithms to analyse Facebook profiles to determine whether prospective customers would be careful drivers.
Facebook, which has strict policies about the sharing of information, said accounts are only used for login and verification purposes.
A Facebook spokeswoman said: "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."
An Admiral spokeswoman said the initiative will still go ahead – but with a reduced functionality.
She said: "Admiral does not have access to customers' Facebook data and does not hold social media data to set prices for its customers.
"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."
Louise Haigh, shadow minister for the digital economy, said the British government urgently needs to establish the parameters and ethics around the use of data on social media.
Ms Haigh, who has a background in the insurance industry, said: "We need to get ahead of the game."
Tom Jones, head of policy at law firm Thompsons Solicitors, said insurers want to play "Big Brother".
On its website, Admiral had said: "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.
"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."
According to an index from the AA, young drivers aged 17 to 22 face paying an average £1,286.96 for an annual policy. They pay the biggest premiums out of all the age groups.
Many insurers offer cheaper policies to young motorists who can demonstrate they are a good driver by having a black box fitted in their car to monitor their driving.