When Facebook lost its appeal last month to prevent the government from obtaining 381 New York users’ information, many privacy advocates were outraged. What would the future look like if Facebook had to comply with every federal request? How could the site protect its users against not only hackers, but from the government itself?
However, lost amid the discussion over the appeal were the details of the case itself. The 381 people investigated by the government weren’t suspected of participating in any kind of vast criminal conspiracy; instead, they were simply accused of disability fraud. That’s a much more commonplace crime, but that might only serve to lull offenders into a false sense of security. To head off potential government spying, some attorneys have already told their clients to smarten up.
“I would advise my clients not to post anything about their disability case, and to monitor what they’re posting, and just to keep in mind how that’s going to be perceived,” said Timothy Hiller, a New Jersey social security attorney. “The other thing is that disabilities aren’t always obvious. So a person may be able to engage in a certain activity that people may associate, may say well jeez, that person’s not disabled. But that’s not necessarily the case.”
And as always, remember: even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, it’s a good idea to watch what you post on Facebook.