What good is Facebook?
Photo: Anthony7051. Source: Wikipedia
Facebook is over 10 years old and claims more than 2 billion active users, posting pictures and updates about their activities and interests. It was originally based on a student directory, known as a facebook, because it combined personal photos with basic information for new students at college. Now people use it to connect with friends and family over time and distance. We love sharing our Facebook updates!
But sharing got a New Jersey man in trouble, when he posted vacation photos of himself zip-lining and rappelling. The US Postal Service worker had been out of work for years with a chronic wrist injury after hurting himself in an icy fall in 2008 and undergoing arthroscopic surgery later that year. The Postal Service offered him light duty after he was deemed fit to return to work a few months later, but he disputed those findings, claiming chronic pain (and disability payments).
But things started to go downhill for him when he went on vacation in 2015 and posted those photos. Investigators got ahold of the liability waiver he signed where he accepted the risks associated with zip-lining, cargo-net traverses, rope swings, and other strenuous activities. Pretty soon they were taking pictures of him using a chain saw and chucking logs around. Now he faces fines and up to 15 years in prison for insurance fraud and theft of his disability payments.
People love to share, even when it’s not a good idea. Facebook is cited in a third of all divorce cases. Geo-tagged selfies and flirty Facebook messages are now our truth-telling oracles when it comes to relationships. And mutual Facebook-friends can fill you in on the details of that recent business trip, even when your “other” doesn’t. Which story are you going to believe, the official line or that posted picture?
We’re moving to a much more transparent world, where everyone has a camera and there are few, if any secrets. We like this when it helps us catch fraudsters. But we’re just beginning to see some of the larger implications.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA