Depressed Woman Loses Health Benefits for Happy Pics on Facebook

A Canadian woman claims she has lost her health benefits after her insurance company used her Facebook pictures as evidence that she was no longer depressed.

Nathalie Blanchard had been on sick leave for a year from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, after being diagnosed with severe depression. The 29-year old was receiving sick pay from insurer Manulife.

However, when payments stopped coming she contacted Manulife and, she claims, was told that Facebook

) pictures taken on a beach and during a night out were evidence that she was no longer depressed.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which also produced a TV report on the case:

When Blanchard called Manulife, the company said that “I’m available to work, because of Facebook”…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.

…in a written statement sent to CBC News, the insurer said: “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.” It confirmed that it uses the popular social networking site to investigate clients.

It’s a case that adds fuel to the privacy debate, especially given that Blanchard claims her Facebook photos were private. Are we entering an unsettling new reality in which insurance companies are able to deny claims based on Tweets and Facebook pictures?


Man Arrested for Not Tweeting?

In a bizarre case involving teen YouTube sensation Justin Bieber and a riotous crowd of his fans, a record exec from Island Def Jam Records was arrested Friday for, among other things, failing to Tweet when told to by authorities.

When the Beiber event at Roosevelt Field mall became unruly (video below), police appealed to the artist’s label to send a Tweet telling the crowd to leave. When that allegedly didn’t happen, police arrested James Roppo, a senior vice president of Island Def Jam Records, for “endangering the welfare of a minor and obstructing government administration”.

An Associated Press feed reads:

Police arrested a vice president from Bieber’s record label, Island Def Jam Records, saying he wasn’t cooperating with attempts to disperse the crowd. James Roppo, 44, of Hoboken, N.J., was charged with a series of misdemeanours, including endangering the welfare of children and obstructing governmental administration.

“We asked for his help in getting the crowd to go away by sending out a Twittermessage,” said Nassau County Police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith. “By not cooperating with us, we feel he put lives in danger and the public at risk.”

The report doesn’t put the police in a good light, especially considering that Bieber’s feed does contain Tweets asking the crowd to leave.

But all may not be as it seems: contrary to the AP reports, the NY Daily News implies that the arrest was for sending out updates that Bieber was signing autographs even after the crowd had dispersed.

Roppo is pleading not guilty to the charges.

[via MediaMemo]

Una casita de fin de semana en… ¡Kabul!

El alquiler de una casa de cuatro habitaciones en Kabul puede llegar a US$10.000 mensuales.

Es difícil imaginarse a cualquier persona queriendo vivir o invertir en una ciudad sacudida por la violencia, pero la capital de Afganistán está experimentando una bonanza de precios en la propiedad raíz.

Eso va en contravía con la tendencia decreciente de muchos mercados inmobiliarios en todo el mundo.

BBC Mundo pinta el panorama inmobiliario en las zonas más elegantes de la capital afgana, donde las agencias internacionales están haciendo que los precios se disparen (perdón por la metáfora de claro mal gusto).