As we recently highlighted (again!) there has definitely been a recent rise in workcover insurance companies defendants obtaining evidence from a variety of social media sources to look for any information about activities that the injured worker can do, other injuries unrelated to their claim, and evidence of inappropriate behaviour, amongst other things. These other things now also include the privacy risks from sharing Smartphone and / or Tablet photos over the internet!!!
Injured workers at risk of overexposing themselves via social media
Social Media: you have been warned
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and other wildly popular social media websites have transformed how people both connect with each other and obtain information about other people.
It has also created a change in the legal field. For injured workers who are currently applying for or receiving workcover benefits – in particular those who are undertaking any form of litigation (i.e serious injury application, common law claim, appeals)- orbenefits, remember that our advice is NOT to have a Facebook account, or at the very least to keep in mind the extreme importance of privacy settings for both written information and also photos (even “old ones”) on your injured, individual accounts.
If your privacy settings are not tight, curious, predatory parties (aka workcover insurers, their defendants and PIs) can and will randomly obtain information about you, and download the evidence, before you can delete it.
From our experienced, senior personal injury lawyers and their highly knowledgeable barristers, and from our very own, vast experience through interaction with many injured workers who have been put under surveillance, and had their Facebook accounts copied/downloaded (and used in Court)….
What you – the injured worker can and should do today!
- Please, please, if you are using Facebook (or any similar social media platform) ensure that any outdated information regarding your activities is removed from your personal page(s). This includes text entries and pictures.
For example, if you started using Facebook (etc) 3-5 years ago, and at the time your injury was not nearly as bad as it is today, and you made entries such as “I went fishing, caught a monster”..” went rock climbing”…'” renovated the backyard”.. “painted the front gate”, WHATEVER, those entries and pictures will still be (a)bused by the defendant in Court, in an attempt to demonstrate you are not as injured (affected) as you claim to be. We have seen such a case recently, where cross examination went back over Facebook entries that were years old, to the detriment of that injured worker who was denied a serious injury certificate.
- Never ever use social media to vent about your employer/ boss/ supervisor/manager etc or any “people” that are part of the “decision-makers” in your workcover claim (e.g insult your case manager and use his/her name, etc).
You may naively believe that only your friends can see your personal page(s), twitters messages etc and that you have some right to privacy. Not entirely true because all of the content on your walls, including photos and instant messaging, could be potentially discoverable by your employer, that is the opposing workcover defendant(s) in a litigated case if the content is deemed relevant to your workcover claim.
We believe the risk is somewhat less in the social security (i.e. Centrelink) field, however we have occasionally received emails from injured workers who have been put under surveillance (incl, social media) whilst receiving benefits (awaiting for example court appeals re their workcover claims).
Potential detrimental privacy risks from sharing Smartphone & Tablet photos over the internet
If the above social media abuse by the workcover defendants is not enough to get the hairs standing up in your neck, we have recently been made aware that your Smartphone (or Tablet) may now also put you, the injured worker, unknowingly at extreme risk, as pictures you may send and share (over the web/internet) may embed your GPS location!
Depending on your settings, your Smartphone (and tablets) may be embedding GPS location data in each picture you take with it.
Take a picture of your child at their favourite playground and post it and you’ve just shown the world where your child plays. Nice gift to a potential pedophile lurking around!
Take a picture of yourself (the injured worker), showing how “unwell” you are, and that you are bed-bound -unable to leave the house, crippled by pain – but, oops the picture was taken in some distant holiday resort!!
Try and “defend” that a certain picture posted on your Facebook page was “very old” or taken by someone else, or at some other place … Think again – the data is embedded if you did not switch off this very scary setting!
Needless to say how critical it is that you understand how this feature works on Smartphones (but also on Tablets) so that you can protect yourself (and your family).
A (USA) investigative news report (YouTube video) detailing the dangers of this phone setting can be watched here for some more information….
[Post dictated by WCV and manually transcribed and inserted on behalf of workcovervictim]