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Government may use social media to cut off disability payments

What a person chooses to share on social media is personal, but it may quickly become public if they do not use specific sharing protocols to limit who may view their information. For example, a stranger could find out a lot about a North Carolina resident just by scrolling through their pictures and shares on Facebook if that person maintained a public profile. For recipients of disability benefits, the government may soon be watching social media, too, as they search for cases of benefits fraud.

In a recent budget document propounded by the Social Security Administration it was revealed that the federal government may begin using surveillance through social media on the accounts of disability benefits recipients. That surveillance would be used to identify individuals who may be fraudulently receiving benefits when they do not need them. While disability benefits fraud is a disturbing problem, the use of surveillance on social media is wrought with its own issues as well.

For example, a person who suffers from debilitating depression may choose to share pictures or comments of a happy or light-hearted nature. It would be dangerous for these images to be used as evidence that they are no longer depressed or presented to cut off the individual’s benefits.

Everyone should be careful of what and how they post information on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, recipients of Social Security Disability benefits should be aware that actions are being undertaken by the federal government to possibly use surveillance to monitor their online lives and look for alleged instances of disability benefits fraud. The ramifications of this proposal could have significant consequences for people who depend on their benefits to live.