As the holiday season approaches, with its time off and gatherings with friends and relatives we may only see once a year, I thought it appropriate to issue another "be careful what you post on Facebook" caution. This one comes courtesy of an Associated Press piece featured in The Wall Street Journal.
A 29-year-old woman in Bromont, Quebec, Canada had been receiving sick leave benefits from her insurance company after being diagnosed with depression, but those benefits reportedly "dried up" after insurance company representatives saw pictures posted on Facebook of the young woman on trips and at parties. Those photographs were evidence to the insurance company that she was no longer depressed; thus, she no longer needed sick leave benefits, she told reporters.
The woman's attorney indicated that she had gone on vacation at the advice of her doctors. The problem, he says, is that the sick leave was terminated without proper medical evidence.
The woman's insurance company would not comment specifically on the case, according to the WSJ, but said in a statement that benefits would not be terminated on the basis of Facebook photos alone.
Just as the prosecutor who dismissed robbery charges against a young man in New York must have had more reason to do so than the young man's Facebook status, there must be more to this story than the young woman and her attorney are willing to share at this point.
However, the fact remains that the increasing use of social networking and other online communication tools does create a permanent record of a person's activities and associations that will, to some extent or another, be used in making decisions about that person's future. We should all be more cognizant of that fact as we interact online.