Facebook, Bikinis and the Healthcare Debate

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a friend of mine who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship and is currently living in Canada.  We assiduously avoided the topic of politics, but healthcare sneaked into the bikiniconversation, itimating that universal healthcare was a right bestowed by the almighty.

Um.. unless your Canadian insurance company finds picture of you frolicking on the beach on Facebook.

Yep.  Read that one again.  I’ll wait.

According to a Washington Times article, “Insurance cut over Facebook bikini pictures“:

Nathalie Blanchard, 29, took long-term sick leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, more than a year ago for severe depression. She was receiving monthly benefits from her insurance company, Manulife.

When Ms. Blanchard called Manulife to inquire why the payments dried up, the insurance company said that “I’m available to work, because of Facebook,” she told CBC television.  She said that Manulife cited several pictures Ms. Blanchard had posted on her social-networking Web-site page, including some showing her enjoying herself during a male strip-tease show at a Chippendales bar, celebrating her birthday and sunbathing. Based on these postings, the firm claimed Ms. Blanchard was no longer depressed.

medicine_250x251Ouch.  So maybe Canada is not the healthcare standard of the world, one that so many on opposite sides of the healthcare debate hold up as an example.  The bigger picture?

In the past, as my students prepared to launch full-time job searches, I stressed that having TWO Facebook profiles was a good idea.  One that is public with you in a suit grasping a law book or something, one that this is private that shows what you REALLY do on the weekends like kegstands.

I won’t even enter into the debate about Ms. Blanchard’s depression (although they do say that Vitamin D from the sun is great cure for depression), but this is yet another piece of evidence that:

  1. The Internet is FOREVER.
  2. What you post online you must assume is completely visible to everyone.
  3. Think of what is out there online about you that has the potential to impact your life in the future.

Facebook and privacy?  Remember the uproar over Project Beacon?  Recently, Facebook enabled people to comment on their revised privacy policy.  According to ISP Geeks, if more than 7,000 people had commented on it, an automatic vote of Facebook users would have been triggered.  So SURELY, of the millions of Facebook users, 7,000 people gave a damn, right?

No hanging, pregnant or curious chads.

453 people commented.  That’s right.  453 people.  So the current Facebook policy:

“..advises users to make full use of the social network’s privacy settings and application settings to control how much information they share, and with who they share this information with. Facebook provides controls, but it is up to individuals to check and ensure that appropriate settings are in place.”

So do kegstands or appear on the beach in a bikini or at a male strip club (shudder) if you are being treated for depression, but for God’s sake, update your Facebook privacy settings.

And if you are getting the cold sweats reading this thinking of all of the picture of you that are tagged out there, below is a handy-dandy little screen shot of how to change (and make restrictive) your privacy settings in Facebook:

facebook

Mark

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