Apparently it is no longer just potential employers looking into your social networking accounts for incriminating evidence of your wild ways, now it’s also insurance companies.
CBC News is reporting that 29-year-old Nathalie Blanchard is currently on extended medical leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec for major depression. During this time she has been receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from Manulife, but those ended this fall. The reason? She posted happy looking vacation pictures on Facebook.
Here are the details from the CBC:
When Blanchard called Manulife, the company said that “I’m available to work, because of Facebook,” she told CBC News this week.
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.
Blanchard said she notified Manulife that she was taking a trip, and she’s shocked the company would investigate her in such a manner and interpret her photos that way.
“In the moment I’m happy, but before and after I have the same problems” as before, she said.
Blanchard said that on her doctor’s advice, she tried to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems.
While we aren’t medical experts around here, making a medical decision based on how someone’s mental state is by how they appear in a few pictures seems a bit extreme to us. Ms. Blanchard is being sent to a doctor for more tests and to see about getting her benefits reinstated.
However, it really isn’t so much Ms. Blanchard we are writing about here, but once again showing an example of how you need to be selective in what you put online about yourself. if even insurance companies are going to start checking social networking profiles, which Manulife has admitted they do, are there things you want your insurance company seeing? What if you post a picture of you holding a cigarette or cigar, even in jest? They could cancel your policy under the belief you have taken up smoking, or raise your premiums based on you with holding information from them.
The cons of sharing personal photos on sites such as Facebook just seem to greatly outweigh the pros. Sure you can always mark your images as private, but in Ms. Blanchard’s case, her images were marked as private and yet when she called the insurance company they described the images to her shot-for-shot.
There are exactly 7 pictures online that show my face. Four of those are from professional networking events, one is a profile picture for articles I write, one is me at the JFK Presidential museum and one is of me on vacation having lunch in a German brewpub in Boston. That is it. While I post pictures on sites such as Flickr, they are images of scenery or events but there are certainly no pictures of me doing anything that could harm my reputation or be taken as showing weak moral character and so on. There is nothing wrong with taking those types of pictures, but do you really want them getting out to the world?
No matter if you set images to private, my opinion has always been that once you place an image anywhere on the Internet, you might as well suspect that it will get anywhere eventually. I recently viewed the Facebook pictures of a friend of mine who is well respected in her profession, deals with clients and so on, and to be honest I couldn’t believe the pictures she chose to put on her account. Drinking, hanging on people, compromising positions and so on, and all I could think of was “wait until her professional colleagues see these, and they will.”
By no means should I be construed as a prude, but I think there is a time and a place for those types of images, and putting them on social networks just never seems like the right idea to me, especially if you rely on insurance or are trying to get a job.