Facebook prevented UK-based Admiral Insurance from using data to profile its users this week in a decision that could have widespread ramifications for how companies collect info on the site.
Admiral planned to launch an app targeted at first-time drivers that would analyze their Facebook profiles to determine what kind of driver they are. Some of the factors that would’ve counted against drivers include too many exclamation marks, definitive words like “always” or “never,” and signs of overconfidence.
Facebook blocked the app almost immediately after it was introduced, noting that it violated a rule that advertisers can’t use the site’s data to determine eligibility. Privacy experts agreed with Facebook’s decision, noting the potential dangers of letting companies spy on our social media profiles.
“We need to think about the wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions that affect us financially or otherwise, based on what we have said on social media,” Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights, told The Guardian. “Such intrusive practices could see decisions being made against certain groups based on biases about race, gender, religion or sexuality… Ultimately, this could change how people use social media, encouraging self-censorship in anticipation of future decisions.”
Facebook made a show of blocking this invasive app, but it’s not as if the site itself doesn’t collect tons of our private data. We often warn users to be mindful of things they post on Facebook in the first place.