Posted November 20, 2009 11:00 am by with 13 comments

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facebook-logoSo I had to open my big mouth on my previous post today and say that Facebook is keeping its nose clean with regard to news as of late. I guess it still is despite this particular incident that happened to a woman living in our neighbor to the north, Canada.

You remember Canada. The place where Facebook had to adhere to their privacy policies for threat of shutting them down? Well, I wonder how that privacy deal is working out because it looks like companies working on Canadian soil may need a lesson in privacy. The CBC reports

A Quebec woman on long-term sick leave is fighting to have her benefits reinstated after her employer’s insurance company cut them, she says, because of photos posted on Facebook.

Nathalie Blanchard, 29, has been on leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Que., for the last year and a half after she was diagnosed with major depression.

The Eastern Townships woman was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from Manulife, her insurance company, but the payments dried up this fall.

When Blanchard called Manulife, the company said that “I’m available to work, because of Facebook,” she told CBC News this week.

Now before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not defending this woman. Honestly, I don’t really care if she is trying to get over on a company or not. I have too many other things to worry about.

What does make me wonder is how the insurance company accessed her Facebook account if they were not allowed by Ms. Blanchard? My guess would be that someone at IBM who is her ‘friend’ on Facebook turned over some data but I am not a private investigator and any speculation as to how this happens stops here.

What doesn’t stop here is where are lines going to be drawn moving forward. Of course, if you are ignorant (or even stupid) enough to put damning evidence on Facebook then that’s nothing that anyone can control. What will be considered actual evidence as retrieved through social media?

The story says

She said her insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard posted on the popular social networking site, including ones showing her having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a sun holiday — evidence that she is no longer depressed, Manulife said.

Huh? What if she was just trying to get undepressed (is that even a word?) and and part of the process was to share her ‘happiness’ with others? Where will a line be drawn on this kind of stuff? In the US it’ll like land in the 9th Circuit because if it’s weird that’s where it goes.

Anyway, what’s your take on this one? Should the insurance company be ale to use Facebook as evidence if they were not directly connected to her account? Is finding out information in Facebook any different though than investigators digging to find evidence any way they can? Or will these kind of stories just always be part of the social media world we live in and we just need to make sure to keep our side of the street clean?

Fire off before you head out for the weekend. We’d like to hear from you.

  • Bo

    Their is a lot of information that isn’t available here to make a good judgment call Frank. You are right about ‘What if this is part of her healing process?’ in the fact that no one knows.

    If the Insurance folk canceled the benefits SOLELY on the picture without investigation, then they were wrong, IMO.

  • That’s weird. I didn’t know the clinical criteria for depression was “never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever smile, leave the house or attempt to cheer yourself (unless through prescription chemicals).”

  • What’s the difference between the insurance company checking Facebook or hiring a private investigator to check up on her and see if she’s really too ill to work? Is that kind of thing done in Canada?

    I don’t think pictures on Facebook alone would be evidence enough to cut someones disability payments. I have a feeling there’s a lot more to this story than is being told right now.

    With the privacy laws in Canada as I understand them, no one should have been able to see those pictures unless the lady gave permission. Perhaps this goes to show that there is no such thing as real privacy on line.
    .-= Elmer Boutin´s last blog ..The Importance of Giving Back =-.

  • I would think that if she posted in her Facebook account then that is made public. Then there is a case of how the insurance company “deemed” her to be “Un-depressed” I think that is the bigger issue here.
    .-= Alec Yule´s last blog ..Simple Blogger Autoblog Tutorial =-.

  • Joyce

    As far as I am concerned, privacy is becoming more important as tech advances. There is no excuse for this invasion of privacy; would they be allowed to stand outside her windows at home, and also snoop to see if she is having a life? This is about privacy, not whether she was doing anything wrong.
    I am very careful whom I allow on my Facebook, and in fact, don’t see the point in adding tons of people you don’t really want to communicate with. That being said, I am even more skittish about using Facebook, and now do most of my communication via email, as it is becoming apparent that Facebook cannot be trusted.

  • trouble is… putting anything on facebook is not in reality much different to just taking out a classified ad in the papers.
    .-= tski´s last blog ..A picture mouse mat from your photo collection =-.

  • Sounds like she was trying to screw her employer & insurance company by doing this.

    She should have been dropped, and her insurance company is being nice if they haven’t sued her yet.

    It might seem like a story about facebook , but I’d be more upset that she stole from her employer & co-workers by forcing them to have higher insurance premiums.
    .-= brandon´s last blog ..My Example of a Working Facebook Ad Campaign =-.

    • Joyce

      Number one, sounds like you work for the insurance co.
      Number 2, you are missing the big picture here, which is privacy. There are lots of other ways for ins. companies to check for suspected fraud, rather than snooping on Facebook.
      Number 3, it sounds to me like 1984 is fast approaching, even though it may be a little late.

  • michel

    Bad reportage is more to blame here than Facebook. FB’s Terms of Service clearly state they will not permit any participation in illegal or fraudulent activities. All Manulife would have to say to FB is ‘one of our policyholders MAY be defrauding us, please grant us access to confirm.or deny, thx’

    A couple of articles on this matter have mentioned this perfectly legal exception to ‘friend-only’ access, sadly, this site does not. Bada-bing.

  • tinfoil hat

    Again, one of the reasons, I don’t have Facebook, canybody can find you anytime anywhere

  • Frank Topping

    I have zero sympathy if Canada is anything like the UK too many people are taking the piss and robbing the system. I wonder if the person responsible for supplying the evidence works at the same place ( or not ) and goes to a job they hate day in day out then they see a low life like this enjoying the good life and most likely getting more money for doing nothing. I live in the UK where the benefits system is abused way beyond belief. Just sitting here I could list dozens of names of people ( a number claiming depression ) whom ALL earn more than me on benefits than I do for doing a 8 hour day over 5 days, my working day starts at 5:00am in the morning. One such person I see when I am on my lunch returning to work said to me a couple of weeks a go ” Hi Frank I can’t wait to get home I’m knackered”….. I had already been up and out of bed 8.5 hours and was going back to finish my shift, this lazy fuck had probably been out of bed 1 or 2 hours at best. She gets about £50 to £100 a week more than me and she goes out most nights oh and she’s depressed.

  • I have a hard time swallowing someone’s claim to invasion of privacy when they’re posting pictures on a social site. It’s an oxymoron really. If you want things private keep them on your own pc, at home, whatever…don’t post online!!!!
    Reminds me of the idiot reality tv Mom that said she was tired of all the media coverage! Really???? Get the hell off tv then!
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..Can I stay focused? =-.

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