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A dispute in Canada has brought light to an emerging privacy issue over the use of Facebook photos. Nathalie Blanchard’s insurance company cut her disability benefits after their agent found photos of her on vacation through Facebook.  When she was diagnosed with severe depression her psychiatrist told her to go on vacation.  Until the payments ended this fall, she had been receiving monthly sick-leave benefits.  Blanchard now plans to take her insurer, Manulife, to court.

Manulife told Blanchard that her Facebook photos showed that she was able to work.  According to Blanchard’s attorney, Manulife claimed that pictures of Blanchard having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party and on a vacation were enough proof to show that she was no longer depressed.  Her attorney says she had the right to go on a vacation and claims that she was wrongfully dismissed from her benefits.

International Business Times reports that Manulife has declined to comment on this dispute but has said in a statement that the company would not deny or terminate a valid claim simply because of published information on social networking sites like Facebook.

However, Blanchard’s attorney is claiming that her doctor recommended she go on vacation and that Manulife terminated her disability benefits without proper medical recommendations, relying on the Facebook photos instead.

The lesson: Be careful what you post on Facebook or any other social networking site; it is public information, not a private diary.


Joel B. Rothman represents clients in intellectual property infringement litigation involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, defamation, trade libel, unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and commercial matters. Joel’s litigation practice also includes significant focus on electronic discovery issues such as e-discovery management and motion practice relating to e-discovery.