A recent episode of Black Mirror that addressed the idea of social networking ratings affecting the real world, could be closer to reality than you might think. Admiral is currently looking to use analysis of Facebook posts, searching for triggers like exclamation points and confident statements, as a bearing on what kind of driver you might be. Facebook however has already blocked it from doing so.
The idea behind this initiative, is that by analysing the post history of Facebook users for excitable or over-confident language – statements such as “always,” and “never,” being specifically cited – Admiral can build up a profile of what might constitute a good driver, before they’ve even proved their capabilities. It’s designed for new drivers first setting out on the road.
Admiral claims that the tool wouldn’t look at images, or historical posts – merely the past six months and only at the point of application.
It markets this idea as one that will allow it to give discounts to those who are more conservative, but as you can imagine – and as you’ve seen, if you watched Black Mirror’s Nosedive episode – this not only invades the privacy of applicants, but also could potentially lead to fake online behaviour to game the system.
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Although halted for now, ORG points out that such actions like this lead us down a dangerous road of thought crime and the potential for discrimination based on arbitrary factors.
“Such intrusive practices could see decisions being made against certain groups based on biases about race, gender, religion or sexuality – or because their posts in some way mark them as unconventional. Ultimately, this could change how people use social media, encouraging self-censorship in anticipation of future decisions,” said executive director, Jim Killock.
Considering Admiral was targeting young drivers, who are faced with huge startup costs and are more easily influenced, this seems almost predatory. They are already expected by many insurers to install black boxes in their cars to be even given insurance in the first place.
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KitGuru Says: The sceptic in me can’t help but think that Facebook won’t have a problem with Admiral doing this if the insurer buys the data from the social network instead.