Facebook has forced Admiral to pull the plug on a new scheme – which was designed to set the price of car insurance by analysing the behaviour of first-time drivers – following a privacy outcry, despite the fact Facebook is understood to have sanctioned the plan months ago.
The insurance firm pulled the product – dubbed firstcarquote – less than two hours before it was due to officially launch. It is now operational, and users can log in to the product with Facebook, but it will not analyse their data.
Ironically, Facebook itself offers a similar scheme to brands which advertise on its own site, but the data is anonymised.
According to reports, Admiral planned to analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car drivers or owners to look for personality traits linked to safe driving and monitor certain habits. These drivers could have been eligible for discounts of up to £350 a year.
Admiral and Facebook remain in talks about trying to relaunch the product, which has been trialled online for weeks.
An Admiral spokeswoman said: “Firstcarquote, which will allow first-time drivers to voluntarily share some social data with insurers for a simple and discounted quote, is currently a beta product.
“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 log in using Facebook and share some information to secure a faster, simpler and discounted quote.”
Brandwatch chief marketing officer Will McInnes said: “Every day, sophisticated brands are making decisions using social data – often anonymised and aggregated – to better understand consumers. So while this one initiative from Admiral Insurance has been blocked, the promise of providing better products and services based on actually knowing more about real consumers through appropriately managed social data is a huge opportunity.”
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