The use of social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and numerous other sites has exploded in recent years. Facebook on its own has over 1.1 billion users. These websites certainly offer good ways to connect quickly with friends and relatives who may not live close by us. They allow us to easily view information, pictures and videos shared by our friends and to share our own.
Why Privacy Settings Matter
Most of us who post on social media want to share the information that we post with our friends and relatives. If you want to share information with a lot of people at once, social media is an easy way to do it. Unfortunately, many people do not limit the information that they share to just their friends. Failing to set your privacy options properly can result in your personal information ending up in the hands of people you do not want to see that information. In a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim, an employer or insurance company may try to use that information against you.
Things To Consider about Social Media
While Facebook and other websites can be great for sharing information, people often forget to consider who may end up seeing the information they post on these websites. For example, people do not consider that this information may get revealed to their employer, an insurance company or that insurance company’s attorney if they are injured and end up having to file a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim.
Should I Use Facebook?
Despite the growth of social media websites worldwide, there is certainly no requirement that you participate in social media. So, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you want to participate in social media at all. You may prefer to keep your life private. Even if you have posted to Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media website in the past, you can simply stop using those websites in the future. If you stop using social media now, you will not have to worry as much about your information falling into unwanted hands because you will not be posting that information anymore.
Despite the risks, many, if not most, people are going to choose to continue posting on social media websites because of the benefits that these websites provide. If you make this decision, then there are still some important things you should consider about your use of those websites to maximize the chance that the information you post is only accessed by the people you want to see that information.
Privacy Settings Explained
Facebook allows users to decide how private they want to keep the information on their page. Facebook gives you many different privacy options including who can see the posts on your timeline, who can contact you, and whether search engines have access to the information on your timeline. If you do not restrict access to your information, it may be available to everyone. In most circumstances, you probably do not need to make your post or personal information available to anyone other than your Facebook “friends”. This will still allow you to share information with your friends while minimizing the risk that your information becomes available to other people or companies with whom you do not want to share it. If you have some question or are concerned about what some of these privacy settings mean, there are several websites with detailed guides that discusses the different privacy settings.
Of course, Facebook is not the only social media website. You might participate in Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn, or any number of other social media websites. All of these different websites will have their own privacy setting options, so you will need to set your privacy for each website separately.
What Insurance Companies Do With Social Media Information
Jason Perkins recently spoke about the discovery of social media in workers’ compensation claims at the 2013 annual continuing education seminar put on by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. In both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims, your physical condition as a result of your injuries is always an important issue. Because of that, employers and insurance companies are often looking for pictures and videos posted on Facebook and other social media websites that they contend show that someone with a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim is not as injured as that person claims to be. They will also be on the lookout for posts that describe a person’s physical condition or what a person can do.
Keeping Your Information Private
The best way to keep your information private is to not post it at all. However, if you do post information, you want to make sure that it is limited to only the people that you want to see it. The reason is that information that you intend to keep private is more likely to be protected as private information by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and other courts in Georgia. If your information is publicly available and not private, then anyone can see it at anytime without evening having to go get permission from a court. Once the insurance company has access to your information, they will certainly review it to see if there is anything that they can use against you in your case. You may find that pictures and videos posted on Facebook and other social media websites could be particularly harmful to your case because they do not tell the full story of your physical condition.
Even if you do keep most of your information private on a social media website, there is a substantial risk that an insurance company or its attorney might be able to get a court to order you to provide that information to them – especially if some of the information on your social media pages is publicly available. So, if you want to keep your information private, the safest thing to do is to not post it on social media websites. While you can minimize the risk of having the information fall into unintended hands by carefully reviewing and setting your privacy options, you cannot guarantee that only the people you want will have access to the information.
Also, if you have a question, you can get a free consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys by calling the phone number on the right or completing the “Need Help” form.