Social networking site Facebook has put the kibosh on plans by a car insurer to look at drivers’ profiles to decide how much they should pay for their premiums.
Insurer Admiral had wanted to get the permission of young motorists to look at their Facebook pages so it could judge how safe they would be as drivers.
If a young driver was deemed to be a low risk, then they would get a discount on their insurance premiums. However, the converse would also be true. If they were considered high risk, then they could pay more.
However, on the day the new scheme was set to start, Facebook refused to give Admiral permission to decide on its premiums after analysis of Facebook posts.
The social media site said that Facebook users could log in to the Admiral app but that the insurer could not look at posts in order to work out how much should be paid for car insurance.
A Facebook spokesman said its key priority was to protect its users’ privacy.
He added: “We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility.”
Admiral is said to be disappointed that its new model has been thwarted but is still set to launch its new app, albeit with “reduced functionality”.
Under the trial, which is said to be the first of its kind within the UK, the insurance firm wanted to offer a first car quote to young motorists aged between 17 to 21 though an app, which they would sign into via Facebook.
Facebook’s decision has been welcomed by privacy campaigners.
Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said social media users should not feel inhibited in their use of sites such as Facebook.
He added: “What should be relevant to financial companies is financial information.”
Backing Facebook’s decision, he said it was sensible for the site to continue to restrict such activities.
Mr Killock said: “Insurers and financial companies who are beginning to use social media data need to engage in a public discussion about the ethics of these practices, which allow a very intense examination of factors that are entirely non-financial.”
Admiral’s proposed action comes of the back of information searching by recruitment firms and potential employers which look at applicant’s social media sites in a bid to find out more about them, to determine whether they would be the right fit for a company.