“Has Facebook really got our best interests at heart?” – Facebook may have ulterior motives for rejecting Admiral’s cheaper car insurance plan

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“Has Facebook really got our best interests at heart?” – Facebook may have ulterior motives for rejecting Admiral’s cheaper car insurance plan

Following on from Admiral’s seemingly crazy suggestion of providing cheaper car insurance to new or young drivers if they grant access to their Facebook profiles, I admired Facebook’s response and its mission to uphold our privacy.

However, the Guardian reports that Facebook might have declined Admiral’s suggestion as the social media giants want to be the only ones with exclusive access to our data.

Could there be some truth to this?

Facebook’s privacy promise

In rejecting Admiral’s suggestions, Facebook assured us that we are the sole owners of the content and information that we choose to post on the social media site. In being the sole owners, Facebook continues in its assurance that we are the data controllers and are responsible for how our information is shared through our own privacy and application settings. If that is the case, why did Facebook decline Admiral’s suggestion of accessing our profiles?

If we are the “sole owners” of the information, do we not have the free choice to share the information with a company that will most probably glance over our profiles and assess whether we are eligible for a discount? I do not believe Admiral’s access would be something out of a CSI investigation scene…

Admiral’s suggestion

The car insurance company are offering new drivers cheaper car insurance if they meet the eligibility criteria. But, of course, there is a catch to everything! The opportunity of cheaper car insurance is on the condition that the insurers are given access to your Facebook profile. The car insurers created a new insurance service called firstcarquote which was created to help new or young drivers get cheaper car insurance.

The way this was to be done was to use Facebook information to allow Admiral to gain a better understanding of the type of person you are, and therefore the type of driver you may be – i.e. safe, or possibly not safe…

On analysis of the profile, the company purports to offer 5 to 15 per cent discounts on the insurance for those who meet the criteria.

Are we being protected by Facebook?

It’s argued that the privacy of people’s Facebook has not been protected. The service was proposed as an opt-in service to ensure that the insurers will not have unauthorised access to information that you did not share with them. Per its privacy statement, users should have ultimate authority on whether companies can access their data. If Facebook do not allow users that privacy right, do they redraft their privacy statement? It seems bizarre how game applications are allowed access to a user’s data, such as email addresses and friend list, but the same is not afforded to car insurers for possibly useful purposes.

We’re not saying that we’re in favour of Admiral’s plans, but merely questioning Facebook’s decline of access to the data, which is the focus of the Guardian article.

Is Facebook monopolising our data?

Is Facebook picking and choosing what companies can have access to your Facebook data for its own purposes? By not allowing Admiral to have access to the profiles, Facebook seems to be doing so. If Admiral had access to your profile, you could be more cautious in what you post, as a negative inference may be drawn on the use of such simple things like even capital letters and exclamation marks. This may deter people from posting at all. There has reportedly been a recent decline in people posting statuses, and if this trend continues, this could see less visitors on Facebook, and consequently a drop in its value.

So, are we being duped in to thinking Facebook’s intentions are to genuinely protect your privacy? At the end of the day, Facebook is a business, and businesses generally intend to make financial gains. the fact remains though that Facebook could, in theory, have an ulterior motive in rejecting Admiral’s submissions.

We do not know the exact reasons, so we can only theorise…

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