CBC News reports that Manulife, a major Canadian insurance company, has revoked an Ontario woman’s sick leave benefits after the company accessed photos from Nathalie Blanchard’s Facebook profile — a profile that she had set as private and only viewable by approved friends. (See my comments after the jump about another Canadian case concerning a private Facebook profile.)
Blanchard had been on sick leave for the last year and a half while battling depression, but the checks recently ended. CBC News reports that when she called Manulife to ask why, the company said, “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. […]
Blanchard said that on her doctor’s advice, she tried to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems.
She also doesn’t understand how Manulife accessed her photos because her Facebook profile is locked and only people she approves can look at what she posts. […]
Manulife wouldn’t comment on Blanchard’s case, but 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.
Another Canadian case may be of interest. Earlier this year, Tariq Remtulla of Canadian law firm Blakes wrote about Leduc v. Roman, in which “the Ontario Superior Court of Justice made an order permitting the defendant to cross-examine a plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident suit […] regarding the kind of content he posted on his private Facebook profile.”
Remtulla said that the ruling is significant for Canadians because, “While a number of Canadian cases have addressed the issue of the discoverability of Facebook profiles, the majority of these dealt with the disclosure of publicly available content. The Murphy v. Perger and Leduc v. Roman decisions are significant given that it appears courts are willing to extend discoverability by inferring the likely existence of relevant documents on a limited-access Facebook profile by the mere existence of a publicly available profile. In Leduc v. Roman, the court went a step further by ordering a party to be cross-examined about the nature of content posted on his limited-access Facebook profile.”
In the United States, data from social networking sites (such as MySpace, Facebook or Bebo) are being used to gather evidence in criminal trials, against employees and applicants to jobs, and high school students as well as applicants to colleges and graduate schools, Here’s more on social networking sites and privacy.