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?