It goes without saying the internet has changed the way we communicate with friends and family and conduct business in countless ways. It was once thought a person could surf the web with a fair degree of anonymity. That is no longer the case. According to Nicolas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, “Most people are still under the illusion that when they go online, they’re anonymous.” In reality, “every move they make is being collected into a database.”
This collected information is stored somewhere in the internet universe and can be retrieved and/or distributed, either lawfully by fine print terms in service contacts (the terms and agreement that most individuals do not read), or illegally by hackers, investigators, or rogue employees looking to make a quick dollar or find out more about you. It is also being gathered by data aggregators who sell it to advertisers, banks, and insurance companies for pennies.
The most potentially harmful data mining for these purposed is happening in placed that have become everyday interaction sites for millions of people like MySpace, Classmates.com, LinkedIn, Facebook. These and a host of other social networking sites are a great way to find and stay connection with friends, colleagues, and loved ones. They are also a virtual treasure trove of personal information, for better or worse, related to a personal injury claim, part of vetting new potential employees, and other legal matters. Even if you have high privacy settings on your site, it does not mean your information cannot be reach by others outside your approved network.
So what are insurance companies and their defense lawyers doing with this information? They are using it to set premium rates based on where you live and what kind of lifestyle you lead. They also use this information as another tool to delay, limit or deny an injured person’s access to medical care and benefits to which they are legally entitled to. Be cautious about what you post on these social media websites. Before you post something ask yourself these questions: Is this something I would share with my boss, my banker, my insurance company, my healthcare provider; Is there any way someone can take this statement completely out of contexts and use it against me?