Nathan Heller explains Why the Life-Insurance Industry Wants to Creep on Your Instagram. In short, they want to have a look at your lifestyle and use that to set premiums. Of the many, many problems with this approach, the impact it might have on the already-too-performative nature of social media is the one that intrigues me the most:

Not only does this have the potential to squeeze daily digital life into a performance of health and virtue for any man, woman, or robot who might be observing but it also encourages disingenuous performances, in pursuit of cheaper premiums.

The data-vacuuming of the life-insurance business is, in this sense, a symptom of a change already under way. It has become a truism that digital life is a polished simulacrum of the real world, subject to inputs—sponsorship deals, selective curation, filtering effects, and all the inequalities of opportunity these comprise—that create a distorted image of the self. This is, presumably, why the Department of Financial Services is wary of using social media for something as important as underwriting a human life.

Related reading: Andrew Maynard’s The Forgotten Risk of Fitness Trackers.

Rian van der Merwe Product manager • Author • Speaker