Shut Your Facebook

It appears the gentle giant known as Facebook is starting to be turned into an angry monster. As you may recall, we visited the topic of social networking earlier in the year. I’m afraid its more nobler goals—communicating with friends and expanding business relationships—are beginning to give way to those less proud tendencies we all possess, such as stalking and spying.

A Canadian woman who’s been out of work from her job at IBM in Quebec for quite some time due to depression lost her sick-leave benefits recently because her insurance agent allegedly found photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having fun. According to an Associated Press article, photos of Nathalie Blanchard were discovered on the social networking Website kicking up her heels at a Chippendales show, having fun at the beach and at her birthday party, among other things.

Blanchard claims her doctor recommended that she go out as a way to forget about her problems. But apparently, insurance companies are now qualified to make determinations on one’s medical status based on looking at online photos. The insurance company, Manulife, admitted to CBC that it uses Facebook and other sites for investigative purposes, but that it is not a sole determining factor.

Absurd. But perhaps the larger issue is the Website’s invasiveness and ability to impact one’s life in a tangible manner. I’ve seen it in action first hand. An old high school friend saw his marriage come unglued when he and his wife rekindled an old friendship with another person via Facebook, only to have this old pal charm the ring right off her finger. The divorce isn’t far off.

Another high school acquaintance on my friend list posted a jaw-dropping note one day this summer that read, “Karen has left me…our marriage is over.” Wow. Recently, my neighbor came over to help me repair a couch that our roughhousing children had broken, and noted that there’s a fine line you walk when you open a Facebook account. “I started getting all of these invitations from women I hadn’t seen in years, and my wife kept asking, ‘Who’s that, and Who’s that girl?'” he said. “I don’t question her about anyone on her friend list. The past is the past…”

  • http://CharlesFlemming Charles Flemming

    If I put it on the internet–no matter what specific channel–it’s there to be found. I lead a pretty conservative lifestyle, so that doesn’t much concern me. I simply don’t have anything available for anyone to rag on (although the insurance company’s behavior is questionable–and probably actionable).<br />
    <br />
    However, I increasingly market my business through social networking while I continue fellowshipping with members of my faith community and arguing politics with those so inclined. These activities don’t always mix and, though I express them through relatively discreet (separate) channels, I have to accept the fact that anyone can discover everything I’ve said online without a great deal of trouble. If they don’t like my politics or religious beliefs, they may not buy my services. To me, that’s just the cost of leading a balanced, relatively transparent life. In other words, it’s a lot like the old days, living in a small town or tightly-knit neighborhood. Social media is just a 21st reconstruction of very ancient relational dynamics with all the possibilities and dangers.

  • http://MargieDana Margie Dana

    Erik,<br />
    <br />
    Great post, really. I tweeted about it earlier today, because everyone needs to be aware of what’s possible with internet info.<br />
    <br />
    While at PRINT last September, a speaker told of a printing firm that was "fired" by a key client, a religious institution (I beleive), because they were made aware of a Facebook photo of the firm’s sales rep – having a "great" time at a party. They did not want to be associated with a firm that had such employees, so that was that.