from the privacy-is-an-illusion? dept
There have been a bunch of stories lately about how pictures that people put up on Facebook are coming back to haunt them in unexpected ways. First, we have the case of Adam Bauer, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student who had been careful about who he friended, but chose to accept a friend request from an unknown user, because "she was a good-looking girl." Turns out that the "good-looking girl" was actually the La Crosse police, who ticketed him for underage drinking because of a photo on Facebook of Bauer holding a drink
. This reminds me of a case we wrote about six years ago, involving a woman who posted some naked photos of herself
at some locations around Lincoln, Nebraska -- leading the police to charge her with violating local no-nudity laws.
The other story that a bunch of folks have submitted was the case of a woman who who lost her disability insurance benefits
because of photos on Facebook. She was on sick-leave due to a diagnosis of depression. Yet, somehow the insurance company got access to her Facebook photos that showed her out having fun -- at a birthday party, on vacation and the beach and at a Chippendale's show. Now it's entirely possible that there was insurance fraud going on. Or, it's also possible that someone who had been diagnosed with depression was trying to put her life back together. It's a bit difficult to think that an insurance agent looking at photos online is better at diagnosing the situation than a trained doctor.
In both of these cases, the issue is that photos might not tell the whole story. Making major decisions based just on some photos uploaded to social networks seems fraught with potential problems. I could certainly see using them as part of a larger investigation, but it doesn't seem like that was the case in either situation. But, in the meantime, it's a reminder that your privacy is increasingly disappearing -- and you may be surprised about decisions that others make about you based on what you assumed was perfectly innocent activities.