Facebook: What’s Yours is Ours

While Facebook should be celebrating its 500 millionth user, Founder Mark Zuckerberg has to instead delay the party as he is facing yet another lawsuit. The Wall Street Journal broke the story: Paul Ceglia is suing Zuckerberg for an 84% stake in Facebook, claiming that he invested $1,000 in his former employee Zuckerberg’s new website, Facebook, in exchange for a 50% stake in the company as well as 1% interest for each day it took to complete the product.  While this lawsuit is considered frivolous by many lawyers and contracts professors, it does bring up the prevalent issue: ownership over internet property.

There have been countless stories addressing the privacy of Facebook and how content on someone’s personal page can be held against them. The two main offenders of using Facebook to profile others are (potential) employers and school administrators.

 

 

For example, making international headlines late last year, a woman lost her sick-leave benefits because of pictures she had posted on Facebook. Nathalie Blanchard was diagnosed with major depression by her doctor and was on leave from her job at IBM in Quebec. She was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from Canada’s Manulife Financial Insurance. However, one day her checks stopped coming and she discovered it was because of pictures she had recently posted on Facebook that featured her looking happy (what her employer viewed as seemingly not depressed anymore and ready to return to work). Blanchard and her lawyer claimed that her doctor suggested she go on vacation and socialize with friends and family; it was not the insurance company’s place to determine if she was relieved of her depression based on pictures online.

“Still, Vito Colucci Jr., a private investigator in Stamford, Conn. who has been hired to

investigate health insurance claims, said he uses Facebook regularly to gain insight into a

policy holder’s life.

‘This is a tool now for the modern-day investigator,’ he said. ‘It’s a tool to see what an

individual is doing. They’re putting it out in the public for everyone to see.’”

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AheadoftheCurve/woman-loses-insurance-benefits

facebook-pics/story?id=9154741&page=1

 

Students are especially vulnerable when it comes to the issue of Facebook privacy. If a student has an interview, the employer is able to search that candidate’s profile and pictures to see if he or she is the type of person they would like to hire. For this exact reason, students are advised by career counselors to either delete all pictures or make their profiles private to all people except “friends.”

In addition, student-athletes at the high school or collegiate level seen partying in their Facebook pictures face potential suspension or worse, depending on whether they are underage.

In my hometown and those that surround it, there have been numerous incidents in the past couple of years about a parent who realized there was an unauthorized party at their house or their child attended a party where alcohol was being consumed. These parents wanted the students to be punished and the most effective way to do this was to invade Facebook, find albums from the party and deliver pictures to the Principal’s office.

There was one event in a local town where over half of the 200-student class was suspended from school for one week and from athletics for the season. Each student also had to write an essay for their college applications explaining exactly why they were suspended.

 

So while there is no doubt that Facebook is a great tool to discover if someone is doing something illegal, the question remains…is it legal to punish those offenders?

This issue upsets students who feel like their privacy is being violated. That being said, the argument is…when someone is trying to hide something, it leads people to believe that what you are hiding is illegal and you should be punished for it.

The question is…do you lose ownership of things you post online? Is it fair for employers, school officials or other authority figures to use these things against you?

Until Mark Zuckerberg can sort out his own ownership problems, it seems like this problem will continue for Facebook users.

Written by Rachel Licciardi

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Comments

  • game site  On August 18, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Cool, there is actually some good points on here some of my readers will maybe find this relevant, will send a link, many thanks.

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