Can You Be Arrested or Lose Insurance Because of Facebook?

Rubix cube with social media icons on squaresThere is a certain feel of detachment to social media posts.  You do not have to see the reaction of everyone who reads the post; just those who choose to respond.  If someone does not like your posts, they can unfriend or unfollow or otherwise ignore you.  It can feel as though your social media posts are part of your fake internet world and that they do not actually affect your real life. 

For better or for worse, that feeling is quite wrong.

Once you have posted something to Facebook or most other social media outlets, you no longer have complete control over who ultimately can see the information or photograph that you have posted.  Even with strict security settings, one of your “friends” or “followers” could simply download the picture (or information) and post it again.  This can cause problems for you if the wrong information gets into the wrong hands at the wrong time.

For example, posting photos or videos of you or your friends engaging in criminal behavior can lead to criminal charges being brought. 

This has actually happened on a number of occasions. Obviously social media can also be used against you during probation.  But the scarier possibility is facing criminal charges that are brought based upon a doctored photograph designed to look as though you engaged in criminal behavior that you did not actually engage in.  In such a situation, you would have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to straighten the situation out.

Aside from criminal issues, information that you post online can also be used against you by your insurance company. 

For example, if you told your auto insurer that your car is generally parked in a garage and you post a picture of your house, which clearly shows that you do not actually have a garage, the insurance company could deny coverage based upon misrepresentations on your application for insurance. 

Even if you did not lie, the insurance company could misconstrue a photograph and still deny coverage.  In the above example, if the photo was actually of your old home, the insurance company might nonetheless use that photograph to deny coverage.  As another example, if you are injured in an accident and pursue a liability claim against an insurance company for your injuries, and you post a pre-injury photograph or video without clearly noting that the photograph pre-dates your injury, the insurance company might deny, or reduce their assessment of the value of, your claim.   Ultimately you might very well be able to straighten the situation out, but not before expending considerable time, effort, and probably expense.

Such was the case for one North Carolina lady who recently made the news because her insurance coverage was actually canceled based upon a misconstrued photograph.  The insurance company seeing a photograph of her dog and concluding that she had lied about the breed:  

Long story short, social media posts can have real-life consequences.  Think before you post.