Miss Blanchard is a young Canadian woman who, for the past year, has been on sick leave from her job at an IBM office after being diagnosed with major depression. According to reports, Miss Blanchard posted cheerful, smiling images of herself on Facebook, photos of her beach vacation and nights out with friends. She says her insurance benefits were cut off because the insurance company said her Facebook pictures indicated she was no longer depressed and was ready to return to work.
Really? Really? So we allegedly have diagnosticians working for insurance companies that can diagnose someone from some photos? Give me a break! How about asking for an updated evaluation? How about some good, old-fashioned due process? How about learning about depression and the process involved? The cyclical nature of the disorder?
I’m actually not surprised that an insurance company (and it’s probably not the only one) is reportedly watching its policy holders on Facebook, looking to see who might be fibbing about a particular illness. But is a social networking site really the place to make a medical diagnosis, especially when it comes to something like clinical depression? I get it if someone’s saying they have a bad back and can barely walk. If they then post dated photos or videos of themselves doing back flips, OK, that’s a problem. Mental illness is not so transparent.
Miss Blanchard is allegedly taking legal action against IBM and her health insurance company, arguing that the doctor who was treating her for depression recommended that she socialize with family and friends instead of staying at home and staring blankly at the wall. I’ll be very interested to see how that lawsuit turns out.
In the meantime, believe me when I go on one of my periodic rants about the stuff you stick up on your Facebook page. The Web is great, but it may also be a modern-day, real world counterpart of Orwell’s “Big Brother.” Am I being paranoid or just realistic? Let me hear from you.