In my weekly Tech Monday staff development session I closed our school’s Cybersafety Awareness Week with Internet Safety for Teachers. In this session participants and I discuss various aspects of Internet use that could prove harmful to a teacher’s career. One of the things I go over is how things posted on Social Networks could come back and haunt people. This is a discussion I have had with students too. The example I highlight the most is posting pictures on the Internet. I talk about how one may think a picture is totally innocent but might be construed in a totally different and unexpected way. The different interpretations might cause trouble for someone which can be annoying to downright scary. Another thing, it won’t matter if you have locked the picture or not. If someone wants the information bad enough they will find a way to get it.
Over the weekend I noticed a post in Mashable about a woman who had her disability benefits stopped because of pictures posted on Facebook. According to a CBC article, Nathalie Blanchard was on long-term disability due to depression and was paid benefits from her insurance company. During this time she had taken a trip and went to bars with friends which, according to Ms. Blanchard, was advised by her doctor. Apparently some pictures were taken and posted on the social networking site. To make matters worse, Ms. Blancard’s profile was locked. This means no one can see her site without her approval. Somehow the insurance company gained access to her Facebook page and claimed the information they found proved Ms. Blanchard was no longer depressed and the benefits stopped.
Okay, Ms. Blanchard has pictures taken which appears she is having a good time. Lot’s of people take similar pictures and post them. Does this mean Ms. Blanchard really is? The other thing and the one that disturbs me most, how did the insurance company gain access to a supposedly secure site? Was it legal? This case will be argued in Canadian courts and might have long-term repercussions on how information can be accessed online. While this case makes it way in courts, what else could happen? People need to be mindful of what is posted about them whether it is done by them or someone else. As I always tell students, don’t put anything on the Internet you would not want your Mama to see and what goes on the internet stays on the Internet, and if someone wants the information bad enough they will find a way to get it. Ms. Blanchard’s insurance company wanted her information bad enough.